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Calmy-Rey tours the "impressive" frontier

The Joint Security Area at Panmonjom is heavily guarded


After having made her historic crossing of the boundary between North and South Korea, Calmy-Rey was shown around the low buildings straddling the military demarcation line on the southern side of the frontier.

Painted blue, the buildings have two doors at either end leading to either side of the frontier.

They make up part of the heavily guarded Joint Security Area at Panmunjom that is known as Conference Row.

Major General Adrien Evequoz, the head of the Swiss military delegation, showed the foreign minister around.

The focal point was the hut in which Swiss representatives of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) hold regular meetings with their NNSC counterparts from Sweden.

Seating herself at the long negotiating table, Calmy-Rey was amused to hear that the ornate wooden chairs are the same ones as those at Bern's Federal Parliament. "The chairs are clearly not neutral then," she smiled.

Standing next to a couple of South Korean soldiers - who all rigorously wear sunglasses so as not to look their enemy in the eye - she told swissinfo: "It's impressive to be here. More than 800 Swiss have been posted at Panmunjom over the past 50 years, and in doing so our country has truly carried out the traditional role for which it is recognized."

Moving out of the Joint Security Area, Calmy-Rey then travelled to the Swiss section of the NNSC Camp, just across the military demarcation line.

It was originally planned for her to make the short journey on foot, across the 'Blue Bridge' leading from the Joint Security Area. However, the knee injury she sustained just before flying to Pyongyang made that impossible.

At the Swiss Camp, Calmy-Rey lunched with General Evequoz and his staff, the Swiss ambassador Christian Muehlethaler and representatives of the US forces in South Korea.

Four hours after her historic 'step' for peace, the minister and her entourage left for a meeting with her South Korean counterpart, Yoon, in Seoul.

swissinfo, Juliet Linley in Panmunjom

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