12/12/2018, 13.58
KOREA
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20 military outposts dismantled on the border between North and South Korea

Pyongyang and Seoul retain an unarmed one for historical value. Military personnel controlled the complete withdrawal of weapons and troops, in addition to the demolition of some underground structures. From the conciliatory efforts a debate on the future status of US troops. Expert: "In the peace process, the interests of the great foreign powers are influential".

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Yesterday, the two Koreas conducted a joint inspection to verify the dismantling of 20 guard posts (GPs) inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This is one of the latest initiatives undertaken by the two governments to further military, economic and political relations between the South and the North. Despite the steps forward in the pacification of the peninsula, analysts warn: the two Koreas must overcome the geopolitical obstacles caused by the great powers, struggling for their balance of strategic interests.

In the beginning, Seoul and Pyongyang had agreed to dismantle 11 outposts each; later they decided to keep one each, even if unarmed, in light of their historical value. In the morning, the South sent 11 teams, made up of seven people each, to check the northern watchtowers. The teams crossed the military demarcation line on newly built paths, which now link the posts of the two countries. The military personnel controlled the complete withdrawal of weapons and troops, in addition to the demolition of some underground structures. The North followed the same procedures in the afternoon.

The decommissioning of the outposts is part of a military agreement that the defense ministers of both Koreas signed after the third summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, in September. The military agreement includes a series of measures to strengthen mutual trust and arms control measures, such as the disarmament of landmines in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom. Added to this is the creation of air, land and sea buffer zones to prevent accidental collisions.

The conciliatory efforts, in particular those of Seoul, have triggered a debate on the future status of US troops. Many, mostly liberals, argue that a peace regime, if shaped to replace the current armistice, could question the basis of the US military stamp on the peninsula. Reduced American influence in Korea could threaten Washington's pre-eminent position with respect to a range of regional allies and competitors: Japan on one side, China and Russia on the other.

According to observers, even Beijing fears that a peace process on the peninsula could bring its communist ally, the North, closer to the United States. For China, this could mean the disappearance of a crucial strategic buffer on the peninsula, which prevented American troops in the South from approaching its border. Nam Chang-hee, professor of international relations at the University of Inha, says: "It is a fact of life in international politics that the interests of the great powers influence the foreign policies of middle and smaller states - a reason for which a realistic political formula is needed ".

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