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Vice defense chief calls for swift formation of inter-Korean defense committee

South Korean Vice Defense Minister Park Jae-min on Tuesday called for the swift establishment of an inter-Korean military committee that the South and the North agreed to set up during a summit of their leaders last year.

Park made the remarks during a session on international arms control at the 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum held in the Chinese capital city, referring to the Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA) that the two Koreas signed on the sidelines of the third summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in September last year.

Establishing a joint military committee was one of the agreement's key points.

"Thanks to the inter-Korean military agreement, we could be able to lower military tensions between the two Koreas and have hope for progress in (President Moon Jae-in's) Korean Peninsula peace process," Park said in his presentation.
South Korea's Vice Defense Minister Park Jae-min speaks during the 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum in China (Yonhap)
South Korea's Vice Defense Minister Park Jae-min speaks during the 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum in China (Yonhap)

"Over the denuclearization process, the two Koreas should also push for ways to guarantee mutual security in parallel. In this sense, I hope for the swift formation of the inter-Korean joint committee to candidly discuss issues of mutual concern," he added.

The military agreement also calls for a series of peace-building and tension-reducing measures, such as the halt of all hostile acts. But no discussions on the envisioned military committee have taken place amid a lack of progress in the denuclearization negotiations between the United States and North Korea.

The forum in Beijing was also attended by Park's North Korean counterpart, Kim Hyong-ryong, North Korea's Vice Defense Minister of the People's Armed Forces. But an anticipated encounter between the two officials did not take place, according to officials.

During his address on Monday, Kim criticized the United States and South Korea for hostile acts that have heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and called on them to come up with a new way of resolving the current security impasse.

Wrapping up his three-day trip to Beijing, Seoul's vice minister is to return home later in the day.

During his stay in Beijing, Park held the fifth vice ministerial strategic defense dialogue with his Chinese counterpart on Monday. It was the two sides' first such meeting in five years, and they agreed to make joint efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and for deeper bilateral ties.

He also paid a courtesy call on Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Sunday.

The Xiangshan security forum is China's answer to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore organized by a Britain-based think tank. This year's event kicked off on Sunday for a three-day run and brought together 500 government officials and security experts from 68 countries and seven international organizations, according to Seoul's defense ministry. (Yonhap)