South Korea’s National Security Adviser Defends Suspension of 2018 Military Accord with North Korea

Seoul – In Seoul, National Security Adviser Cho Tae-yong defended the South Korean government's decision to partially suspend a 2018 military agreement with North Korea, emphasizing the action was taken to protect the population of the greater Seoul area. Cho's remarks followed President Yoon Suk Yeol's approval on Wednesday to suspend a specific clause in the 2018 accord that established a no-fly zone around the Military Demarcation Line between the two Koreas.

According to Yonhap News Agency, this decision was a response to North Korea's recent launch of a rocket carrying a military spy satellite on Tuesday. Pyongyang has declared its intention to reinstate all measures under the agreement following Seoul's suspension of the inter-Korean military accord. In an interview with Yonhap News TV, Cho described the September 19 agreement as significantly disadvantageous for South Korea, explaining that the partial suspension is aimed at restoring South Korea's surveillance and reconnaissance activities.

Cho highlighted the strategic importance of the greater Seoul area, noting it falls within North Korea's target range. He explained that the 2018 military accord had hindered Seoul's ability to counterattack in case of an imminent North Korean long-range artillery strike. Cho assured that the suspension is a minimal and purely defensive measure, addressing concerns that it might escalate tensions between the two nations.

Despite these developments, Cho affirmed the government's commitment to keeping dialogue channels open, mentioning that humanitarian matters like family reunions and support for the North could still be considered. However, he noted that North Korea has not responded to overtures for discussions on these issues.

Cho also commented on potential diplomatic developments in the region, including the possibility of a trilateral summit among South Korea, China, and Japan. Although he doubted such a meeting would occur this year, he expressed anticipation for its eventual occurrence and suggested that it might prompt plans for Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Seoul.

Reflecting on President Yoon's recent state visit to Britain, Cho regarded it as historically significant, positioning South Korea as an important partner to Britain, akin to China and Japan. On the bid to host the 2030 World Expo, Cho acknowledged South Korea's status as a "follower" in the competition but expressed optimism about the country's progress due to Yoon's diplomatic efforts.

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