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(LEAD) UNC concludes both Koreas breached armistice by flying drones in each other's territory: source

22:01 January 25, 2023

(ATTN: UPDATES with defense ministry's statement in 6th para)

SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- The U.S.-led U.N. Command (UNC) has concluded both South and North Korea violated the armistice by sending drones into each other's territory last month, an informed source said Wednesday.

The UNC recently reached the conclusion after its special team investigated the North's Dec. 26 drone infiltrations, which led the South to send its drones into the North in a "corresponding" step.

UNC Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera has been briefed on the investigation outcome, the source told Yonhap News Agency, requesting anonymity.

LaCamera, who also heads the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command and the U.S. Forces Korea, is said to have been pondering whether to disclose the outcome amid concerns that it could risk friction with the Seoul government.

Seoul's defense ministry defended its sending of the drones into the North's territory as the exercise of its right to "self-defense," stressing the right is not restricted by the armistice.

Asked to comment on the UNC's conclusion, the ministry said that the South Korean military respects the command's authority related to the armistice enforcement, and that it has been "actively" cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

Yonhap News Agency has requested official comment from the UNC on the issue, but it was not immediately available.

The UNC is an enforcer of the armistice that halted the 1950-53 Korean War.

This undated file photo shows a North Korean drone that was found in Inje County, Gangwon Province, in 2017. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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