Koreas to hold military talks ahead of their leaders’ summit

South Korea said Tuesday that it will hold military talks with North Korea this week to discuss ways to ease tensions along their border ahead of a summit between their leaders.

The talks scheduled for Thursday at the border village of Panmunjom will come just days before the leaders of the two countries meet for the third time this year. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the talks will deal with disarming a jointly controlled area at Panmunjom, removing front-line guard posts and conducting joint searches for soldiers missing from the Korean War.

In military talks in late July, generals from the Koreas said they had a meaningful discussion on those issues but they didn’t reach any accord. Experts say any breakthrough agreement on lowering down inter-Korean military tensions in the near future is largely linked to progress in North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently told vising South Korean officials that he remains committed to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and said he still has faith in U.S. President Donald Trump. The White House said Monday that Trump received Kim’s request to schedule a second meeting between the two and that planning is in motion to make it happen.

During his earlier landmark summits with Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Kim pledged to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But nuclear diplomacy later stalled as U.S. officials demanded North Korea take serious disarmament steps first before receiving major outside concessions.

When Kim met South Korean envoys last week, the sides agreed that next week’s summit with Moon will discuss practical steps toward achieving denuclearization and peace. They also agreed to try to find ways to build up mutual trust and prevent armed clashes between their militaries, according to South Korean officials.

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