[EDITORIALS]Good work to reduce tensionIn yesterday’s second Inter-Korean general-level military talks, the two sides came up with a meaningful agreement for reducing military tension. Both Koreas agreed on six provisions to prevent accidental collisions in the Yellow Sea, such as prohibiting unjust physical acts against each other’s naval vessels and civilian boats. The two Koreas also agreed to eliminate propaganda along the Military Demarcation Line.
In the North-South Basic Agreement of 1992, the two Koreas agreed to military confidence-building measures, but they have never materialized in anything specific. But this agreement between top military officials of both Koreas has very realistic and specific measures for easing tension on the peninsula, and this is the first time that such specifics were agreed upon since the Korean War. It is fortunate that the possibility of armed confrontation in the Yellow Sea will be lessened during the blue crab fishing season.
In the past, there has been notable progress made in the economic and social sectors in inter-Korean relations, but none in the military sector. That is because the North insisted on discussing military issues only with the United States. But now that an agreement has been made in the military sector, North-South relations have moved to a one-step more advanced stage. In order to maintain progress, these agreed points should be implemented. They must not follow in the footsteps of the North-South Basic Agreement.
Both sides must take this opportunity to come up with measures that will substantially mitigate military tension. We hope this will develop into discussions on disarmament such as moving the North’s concentrated deployment of long-range artillery from the front line to rear area. The 400,000 tons of food that Pyeongyang demanded during the meeting of the North-South economic cooperation committee yesterday is not irrelevant to the inter-Korean defense talks.
It is regrettable that the ambiguous term “in the Yellow Sea” was used instead of “Northern Limit Line.” If this causes misinterpretations in the future, Seoul will be criticized for providing aid without making the line clear. In the next round of military talks, it is necessary to nail down the issue of the Northern Limit Line with the North.