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November 2, 2018

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DMZ goes quiet as historic peace pact between Koreas takes effect

A no-fly zone and a ban on military drills near the heavily fortified border between two Koreas came into effect yesterday as the once uneasy neighbors push to further defuse tensions.

The measures were part of a military accord inked during last month’s inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang, which includes a halt in “all hostile acts,” and a gradual removal of landmines and guard posts within the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

The two Koreas completely removed dangers of military clash through the military agreement, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in told the parliament yesterday.

“The two Koreas and the United States will achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and lasting peace based on firm trust.”

Moon also said Kim Jong Un, leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, will “soon” visit Seoul and a second DPRK-US summit is “near at hand.”

He said he expected Kim to visit Russia soon and that Kim may meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Moon has said that Kim told him he would visit Seoul within this year when the leaders met in Pyongyang in September.

The no-fly zone extends 40 kilometers north and south from the Military Demarcation Line in the east and 20 kilometers in the west for fixed-wing aircraft.

The agreement also bars live-fire drills involving fixed-wing aircraft and air-to-ground guided weapons in the no-fly area. South Korea and the US had held such drills regularly until halting joint exercises in June.

There are different restrictions on helicopters, drones and balloons, with exemptions for commercial and non-military operations such as medical, disaster and agricultural uses.

“We will thoroughly verify the DPRK’s implementation of the agreement, including its movement on military exercises around the MDL and whether it complies with the no-fly zone,” the South’s defence ministry said in a statement.

The no-fly zone was a key sticking point for Washington because it would effectively bar close air support drills.

The allies agreed to halt the Vigilant Ace air defense drills set for December in a move to spur nuclear talks with Pyongyang, while South Korea said it kicked off two military exercises on Monday outside the banned area.

Kim Jong Un vowed to work toward denuclearization during his historic June summit with US President Donald Trump.


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