Removal of land mines in the DMZ to begin today

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Removal of land mines in the DMZ to begin today

The two Koreas will begin removing landmines and explosives from both the Joint Security Area (JSA) north of Seoul and a part of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Cheorwon County, Gangwon, starting today, in keeping with a military pact signed during the inter-Korean summit earlier this month.

The operation to remove landmines from areas around the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom in the JSA will run through Oct. 20, according to the Ministry of National Defense Sunday. Removal of mines from Arrowhead Ridge, or Hill 281, in Cheorwon, the site of battles during the 1950-1953 Korean War, will also kick off today and run through Nov. 30.

This removal of landmines along the DMZ will enable an inter-Korean excavation project starting next April to look for the remains of an estimated 300 soldiers from the two Koreas and United Nations Command killed during the Korean War in the Cheorwon border area. It is also a part of efforts toward the disarmament of the JSA by the end of the year, as set out in the inter-Korean Pyongyang summit.

The third summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took place in Pyongyang from Sept. 18 to 20. It resulted in the joint Pyongyang Declaration of Sept. 19, addressing denuclearization, inter-Korean cooperation and reduction of tensions, along with a comprehensive military agreement signed by the defense ministers, which focused on tangible steps to reduce tensions and the risk of military conflict and toward inter-Korean confidence-building. Under the military pact, the two sides also agreed to withdraw all guard posts from the DMZ.

The Pyongyang military pact is in keeping with the earlier inter-Korean Panmunjom Declaration of April 27, signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which pledged to transform the DMZ into a “peace zone.”

A trilateral consultative group comprised of officials from the two Koreas and the UN Command will be launched to fine-tune the details of the disarmament of the JSA. This disarmament is expected to take place by the end of the month, following the removal of landmines at the JSA, and include withdrawal of troops, guard posts and arms from the area.

The two Koreas plan to maintain a joint guard system with 35 soldiers from the South and North posted in the JSA.

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