Two Koreas remove mines for easing military tensions
North Korean and South Korean forces are continuing to remove some of the land mines planted at their heavily fortified border.
Iran Press/Asia: according to The Associated Press, South Korean officials stated that two Koreas are continuing to remove some of the land mines planted at their heavily fortified border on Tuesday, in the first implementation of recent agreements aimed at easing their decades-long military standoff.
South Korean troops are removing mines on the southern part of the two sites. Later Monday, the South Korean military detected North Korean soldiers engaged in what it thought was demining on the northern part of the sites, a South Korean defense official said on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.
South Korean army engineers with demining equipment were deployed to the border village of Panmunjom and another frontline area called "Arrow Head Hill" where the Koreas plan their first joint searches for soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War.
At Arrow Head Hill, where some of the fiercest battles occurred during the Korean War, Seoul officials think there are remains of about 300 South Korean and U.N. forces, along with an unspecified number of Chinese and North Korean remains.
The Korean War left millions dead or missing, and South Korea wants to expand joint excavations with North Korea for remains at Demilitarized Zone areas. The Koreas remain split along the 155-mile-long DMZ that was originally created as a buffer zone at the end of the Korean War.
About 2 million mines are thought to be scattered in and near the DMZ, which is also guarded by hundreds of thousands of combat troops, barbed wire fences and tank traps.
Mines dislodged by flooding and landslides have occasionally caused deaths in front-line areas in South Korea.
In 2015, a land mine blast blamed on North Korea maimed two South Korean soldiers and pushed the Koreas to the brink of war.
The agreement to clear mines, the first such effort since the early 2000s, was among a package of tension-easing deals struck by the Koreas' defense chiefs on the sidelines of a leaders' summit last month in Pyongyang.
Aiming to reduce conventional military threats, they also agreed to remove 11 front-line guard posts by December and set up buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries and a no-fly zone above the border to prevent accidental clashes.
As the two Korea's ties grow warmer, in Sep. 18, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea arrived in Pyongyang for his third summit with Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader. The two heads of state are expected to discuss the formal ending of the Korean war, as well as the issue of unification.
Moon and Kim also had a surprise meeting at the border in May, making Moon the only South Korean leader to have met a North Korean leader twice. A visit by Moon to Pyongyang would be the first to be held this year in North Korea’s capital.
The North has been heavily sanctioned over its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
North Korea has denounced U.S.-led efforts to maintain sanctions despite what Pyongyang says are goodwill gestures, including halting its weapons testing and returning the remains of U.S. troops killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War.