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Permission to Cover N-Site Closure is Denied by South Korea

North Korean authorities on Tuesday morning denied permission to South Korean journalists to attend the dismantling of their nuclear base scheduled to take place between May 23-25.

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North Korean authorities on Tuesday morning denied permission to South Korean journalists to attend the dismantling of their nuclear base scheduled to take place between May 23-25.

Pyongyang had originally invited the South Korean media along with those from Russia, the US, the UK, and China, but the South Korean journalists’ list was rejected on Tuesday, Efe news reported quoting Seoul’s Ministry of Unification.

Members of a news agency and a South Korean television network had travelled to Beijing to fly to North Korea from there on Tuesday to attend the dismantling ceremony.

The Ministry in a statement said it regretted Pyongyang’s decision but despite the setback, it will continue working towards cooperating with Pyongyang and improving US-North Korea ties.

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representational image. Wikimedia

The announcement of the closure of the Punggye-ri base came during the inter-Korean summit, when Pyongyang pledged to work towards total denuclearisation, after claiming that it would stop its weapons tests.

Pyongyang, which announced that it wanted the closure to be made public with the presence of foreign journalists, has conducted six underground nuclear tests, including the last and most powerful in September 2017.

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The latest cancellation is a new setback after last week when Pyongyang abruptly suspended a high-level meeting with Seoul after accusing it of holding joint military exercises with the US.

Kim Jong-un’s regime also said that holding the summit with US President Donald Trump would be uncertain due to the pressure from the White House on the denuclearisation model that it wants to impose on North Korea. (IANS)

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Korean Soldiers Inspect The Demilitarized Border

The three sides have controlled the area since the end of the Korean War in 1953

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North Korean army soldiers are greeted by South Korean army soldiers, wearing helmets, as they cross the Military Demarcation Line inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to inspect the dismantled South Korean guard post in Cheorwon. VOA

Soldiers from North and South Korea criss-crossed their heavily-fortified border Wednesday to inspect efforts to remove front-line guard posts from their respective sides.

Inspection teams from South Korea were greeted by North Korean soldiers when they stepped into the Demilitarized Zone early Wednesday, both sides exchanging handshakes and cigarettes before the South Koreans crossed the border to begin their inspections.

The South Koreans visited 11 North Korean guard posts to make sure they had either been dismantled or disarmed, and if any underground structures were left undestroyed. North Korean inspection teams crossed the border hours later to perform similar inspections on 11 South Korean border posts.

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A train transporting dozens of South Korean officials runs on the rails which leads to North Korea, inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea. VOA

Despite Wednesday’s action, about 200 manned guard posts still remain along the DMZ.

The border is the world’s most heavily fortified, filled with millions of landmines and marked by long lines of barbed wire fences.

The dismantling of the guard posts in the DMZ was part of a comprehensive military agreement reached between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their third summit in September at Pyongyang.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in makes a toast with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a luncheon at Samjiyon Guesthouse in Ryanggang province, North Korea. VOA

The agreement, which is aimed at reducing military tensions on the Korean peninsula, included disarming the Joint Security Area – commonly referred to as the truce village of Panmunjon – including the removal of all landmines, guard posts, surveillance and other military equipment. They also agreed to reduce the number of personnel stationed at the JSA to just 35 unarmed guards, with the aim of reshaping it into a tourist attraction.

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The Joint Security Area, controlled by both Seoul and Pyongyang along with the U.S.-led United Nations Command, is the only spot within the 250-kilometer-long DMZ where troops from North and South Korea stand face-to-face. The three sides have controlled the area since the end of the Korean War in 1953, leaving North and South Korea in a technical state of war. (VOA)