South Korea begins removing mines, expects North to do same

2018-10-01 06:57
Military guard posts of North Korea, right top, and South Korea, left bottom, are seen in Paju, at the border with North Korea and South Korea. (Kim Do-hoon/Yonhap via AP)

Military guard posts of North Korea, right top, and South Korea, left bottom, are seen in Paju, at the border with North Korea and South Korea. (Kim Do-hoon/Yonhap via AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

South Korea began clearing mines from two sites inside the heavily fortified border with North Korea on Monday under tension-reducing agreements reached this year.

Seoul says North Korea is expected to do the same.

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

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to visit Pyongyang this month to try to set up a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

South Korean troops entered the Demilitarised Zone on Monday morning to remove mines around the border village of Panmunjom and another frontline area where the rivals plan their first joint searches with North Korea for soldiers during the 1950-53 Korean War, according to Seoul's Defence Ministry.

Troop remains

The South Korean troops will try to focus on taking out mines on the southern parts of Panmunjom's Joint Security Area and the so-called "Arrow Head Hill", where one of the fiercest battles during the Korean War happened.

Seoul officials believe the remains of about 300 South Korean and UN forces are in the Arrow Head Hill and likely many Chinese and North Korean remains too.

South Korean Defence Ministry officials said they couldn't immediately confirm whether North Korea also began demining on the northern parts of the two sites.

But they said they expected the North to abide by the tension-easing deals their defence chiefs struck on the side-lines of their leaders' summit last month in Pyongyang.

Aiming to reduce conventional military threats, the Koreas' defence chiefs also agreed to withdraw 11 frontline guard posts by December and set up buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries and a no-fly zone above the borderline to prevent accidental armed clashes.

About two million mines are believed to be peppered inside the Koreas' 248km-long Demilitarised Zone that was originally created as a buffer zone at the end of the Korean War.

The DMZ is the world's most heavily fortified border that is also guarded by hundreds of thousands of combat troops, barbed wire fences and tank traps on both sides.

Many experts say the fate of inter-Korean deals can be affected by how nuclear negotiations would go between the United States and North Korea. Past rapprochement efforts were often stalled after an international standoff over the North's nuclear ambitions intensified.

Summits

After provocative tests of three intercontinental ballistic missiles and a powerful nuclear weapon last year, North Korea entered talks with the US and South Korea earlier this year, saying it's willing to deal away its expanding nuclear arsenal.

Kim Jong Un has subsequently held a series of summits with US, South Korean and Chinese leaders and taken some steps like dismantling his nuclear-testing site.

Nuclear diplomacy later came to a standstill amid disputes over how genuine North Korea is about its disarmament pledge.

But Trump, Pompeo and other US officials have recently reported progress in the denuclearisation discussions with the North. Pompeo is to make his third trip to North Korea soon for talks.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    south korea  |  nuclear

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.