North and South Korea removing landmines along border

Arturo Kim
October 2, 2018

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. Nuclear diplomacy later stalled due to suspicions over how honest North Korea is about its disarmament pledge, but U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to visit Pyongyang this month to set up a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

More than 800,000 mines are believed to have been planted along the entire border during and after the 1950-53 war to defend against infiltration.

The Korean War left millions dead or missing, and South Korea wants to expand joint excavations with North Korea.

Both sides undertook to carry out landmine removal work at the Joint Security Area (JSA) over a 20-day period, according to the South Korean defense ministry.

North Korea is estimated to have up to 60 nuclear weapons, a South Korean official said on Tuesday, the first public announcement about the hermit kingdom's secret arsenal.

Many experts say the fate of inter-Korean deals can be affected by how nuclear negotiations go between the United States and North Korea.

However, three senior U.S. officials involved in North Korea policy previously told Reuters that no progress has been made in moving toward serious negotiations on eliminating or even halting Kim's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

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During his summit with Kim last month, the two leaders also agreed to remove some guard posts at the border by the end of the year and halt military drills on the border from November. A 2015 DMZ mine explosion blamed on North Korea that maimed two South Korean soldiers pushed the rivals to the brink of an armed conflict.

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 DPRK is taking substantial and crucial steps to implement the joint statement made at the DPRK-US summit, but the US is still trying to subdue someone by resorting to sanctions", the unnamed commentary accused.

During the war, an outnumbered French battalion belonging to the American-led U.N. Command repelled a series of Chinese attacks in the area in October 1952, months before a South Korean army division also turned back similar Chinese assaults.

At Arrow Head Hill, where some of the fiercest battles occurred during the Korean War, Seoul officials believe there are remains of about 300 South Korean and United Nations forces, along with an unspecified number of Chinese and North Korean remains.

North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his "steadfast stand" Monday to deepen relations with China in his message to Chinese leader Xi Jinping on the occasion of China's 69th founding anniversary, the North's state media said. He also said the north is committed to helping maintain "long lasting peace and prosperity" on the peninsula.

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