Published: Tue, October 02, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Koreas begin clearing landmines from heavily fortified border

Koreas begin clearing landmines from heavily fortified border

But it would be the two countries' first joint demining work in more than a decade and comes amid worldwide diplomacy aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons. It refused to provide further details.

The development comes amid renewed worldwide diplomacy on North Korea's nuclear weapons program after weeks of stalemated negotiations.

After the latest summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang last month, the two countries' defense chiefs signed the agreement fleshing out the military part of the April Moon-Kim summit declaration, which promised to halt "all hostile acts" against each other and practically eliminate the danger of war.

They will likely end up pulling out a very small portion of an estimated 2 million mines littered inside and near the 155-mile-long, 2.5-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone.

In April, South Korea said it had stopped broadcasting propaganda via loudspeakers along the border to "ease the military tension between the two Koreas".

The South Korean government has also said that demining projects are set to begin in the eastern province of Gangwon to allow teams to search for the remains of soldiers killed in the war.

South Korean troops have gradually taken over most operations along the DMZ, but worldwide forces under the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) retain major roles, especially at the JSA, where an American commander and a South Korean deputy lead the security battalion.

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South Korean Defense Ministry officials said they couldn't immediately confirm whether North Korea also began any demining-related works on Monday.

Relations between the North and the South - who are still technically at war despite the end of the Korean War in 1953 - have markedly improved in recent months. "Peace can continue only when we have power and are confidant of protecting ourselves".

Yet Mr. Moon tells a different story in Korean.

Nuclear diplomacy later came to a standstill amid disputes over how genuine North Korea is about its disarmament pledge. Past rapprochement efforts were often stalled after a standoff over the North's nuclear ambitions intensified.

Consider the speeches the South Korean president delivered in North Korea last month. But Trump, Pompeo and other US officials have recently reported progress in the denuclearization discussions with the North. Pompeo is to make his third trip to North Korea soon for talks. Later in the day, North Korean soldiers were detected engaging it what is believed to be demining of the other part of the sites, a Seoul official said Monday.

Meanwhile, on Monday, South Korea held a ceremony marking the recent return of remains of 64 South Korean soldiers missing from the Korean War.

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