Colonel-level meetings between U.S., DPRK to be held

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, July 12, 2010
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The U.S.-led "United Nations Command " (UNC) here said Monday that it will hold colonel-level meetings with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) at Panmunjom on Tuesday, in preparation for a meeting of general-grade officers between the two sides.

In a faxed statement, the "UNC" said the DPRK's Korean People's Army (KPA) Panmunjom Mission on Friday accepted a proposal, made by the "UNC" initially on June 26, to hold colonel-level meetings in advance of general officer talks to discuss the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan on March 26.

It said the DPRK representatives will meet with the UNC's Military Armistice Commission (MAC) representatives at the truce village Panmunjom on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. local time.

The statement said the "UNC" is charged with the enforcement and maintenance of the Armistice Agreement.

It said the General Officer Talks forum was instituted in 1998 with an aim to "lessen tensions between the combatants by providing a forum to discuss violations and reach agreement on measures to prevent future conflict" between the two sides.

The statement also said the proposed meetings, if agreed to, will constitute the 17th round of UNC-KPA general office talks at Panmunjom, after the last similar talks took place on March 2 and 6, 2010.

The DPRK always insists that the "UNC" was unjust, and the so- called "United Nations troops" is just U.S. troops stationed in South Korea. It said that the 30th UN General Assembly had already made a resolution which "called for dissolving the 'UN Command' and withdrawing all foreign troops from South Korea."

Meanwhile, according to the DPRK state-run news agency KCNA, Pyongyang once opposed the U.S. move to have the Cheonan case discussed at the UNC's Military Armistice Commission, noting that "the U.S. had already destroyed by itself the Armistice Agreement and its mechanism. It does not stand to reason that the U.S. is now trying to take them into the Cheonan incident." It also made a proposal to conduct high-level military talks with South Korea in order to investigate the truth of the Cheonan incident, but Seoul refused the proposal.

On Friday, the DPRK said it had decided to accept the U.S. proposal of a military general-level talk after South Korean authorities turned down the DPRK's proposal to hold a North-South talk among the military at a high level, and agreed to hold the preparatory meeting at the senior colonel level on July 13 at Panmunjom.

On March 26, the South Korean frigate Cheonan, with 104 crew members aboard, went down off the South Korean island of Baekryeong off the west coast due to an unexplained explosion.

Seoul formally referred the case of warship sinking to the UNSC on June 4 after it concluded that the 1,200-ton warship was torpedoed by the DPRK. But the DPRK denied any involvement and asked the UNSC to act to help find the truth of the incident.

The UN Security Council on Friday adopted a presidential statement on the Cheonan issue, stressing the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia as a whole, and calling for the settlement of outstanding issues on the Korean Peninsula by peaceful means.

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