Next week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is expected to head to Pyongyang for the first time with the goal of accelerating international efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

“At this stage, I believe it is most important to put a complete end to military tensions between North and South, or possibility of military conflict, or war threat,” Moon told reporters Thursday.

It will be the third summit this year between Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The first two meetings — in April and May — took place at Panmunjom, which separates the two Koreas.

There are serious indications that plans for denuclearization are being formulated by both Koreas. South Korea’s chief presidential security adviser said Thursday that the two nations will discuss specific measures to denuclearize the Peninsula during the summit.

During a keynote speech at an annual security forum hosted by the defense ministry, Chung Eui-yong said “the government is preparing for the Pyongyang summit which is slated to be held from Sept. 18 to 20 so that the two Koreas can create a breakthrough to build the Korean peace process and give impetus to the North-U.S. talks and denuclearization.”

Discussing his trip to the North recently, he said “in this upcoming meeting, the two leaders will have more detailed talks in seeking denuclearization.”

The plans for easing tensions between North and South Korea have been moving forward at a solid pace. For example, the two countries recently launched their joint liaison office, which is designed to expedite round-the-clock communication that is expected to help foster cross-border exchanges.

The liaison office was launched in the North’s border town of Kaesong, with around 50 people each from the two Koreas attending the opening ceremony.

The move is a follow-up on an agreement that the leaders of the two Koreas reached in their April summit to run such an office on hopes that the office will serve as a communication channel to help facilitate inter-Korean cooperation on various fronts.

The two Koreas have also agreed to some military de-escalation measures, including a plan to demilitarize the Joint Security Area and continue joint recovery operations (JRO) of war dead in the demilitarized zone (DMZ).

“President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will officially sign the agreement at the upcoming summit to be held next week in the North Korean capital city of Pyongyang,” the official said.

Specifically, both sides plan to withdraw up to 10 guard posts each all the way through the DMZ on a trial basis and increase the numbers to be dismantled, according to another official who is knowledgeable about the issue.

In reference to the war dead, forensic scientists have identified two sets of remains of U.S. troops killed in the Korean War, which were turned over by North Korea last month.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made the announcement Tuesday, praising the swift work of the scientists.

“There’s been already some closure for a couple of families that have waited many, many years for this,” Mattis said.

American and North Korean officials are in the process of negotiating further returns as well.


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