North and South Korea are set to hold military talks on Thursday to discuss ways to alleviate military tension on the Korean Peninsula, two days after U.S. President Donald Trump surprised Seoul with his plan to stop “war games” with the South.
The meeting of general-rank officers at the border village of Panmunjeom in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas was originally agreed on between their leaders in April and will be the first such talks between the two Koreas since 2007.
The five-member South Korean delegation to the talks at Tongilgak, a building on the North Korean side of Panmunjeom, is led by Maj. Gen. Kim Do Gyun, with the five-member North Korean delegation represented by Lt. Gen. An Ik San.
The talks were originally scheduled for May based on an agreement reached at a summit between South Korean President Moon Jae In and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Panmunjeom on April 27.
But they were effectively postponed when North Korea, angered at a U.S.-South Korean joint air exercise, put off a high-level inter-Korean meeting indefinitely on May 16, the very day it was scheduled to be held.
It was only at a rescheduled high-level meeting on June 1 that the two Koreas agreed to hold the military talks on Thursday.
In the so-called Panmunjeom Declaration, North and South Korea agreed to work to ease military tension and “practically eliminate the danger of war” on the divided peninsula.
As part of the arrangement, the two Koreas agreed to hold frequent meetings between military authorities, including between their defense ministers, to “immediately discuss and solve military issues that arise between them.”
At a news conference shortly after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday, Trump said the United States will be stopping military exercises with South Korea, which he called “very provocative,” so long as talks with North Korea continue.
“We’ve done exercises for a long period of time, working with South Korea, and we call them war games and I call them war games and they’re tremendously expensive. The amount of money we spend on that is incredible,” Trump said.