Two Koreas begin removal of mines from Joint Security Area: ROK

South Korean army soldiers stand guard at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone South Korea

However, he said American forces would provide support for the demining operation.

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

Under deals signed by their defense chiefs on the sidelines of a September summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the demining of the Joint Security Area is part of a broader step to "disarm" the zone and turn it to a "place for peace and unity".

Amid the work in the JSA set to last for 20 days, the two Koreas and the U.N. Command (UNC), which oversees activities in the DMZ, are expected to launch trilateral consultations over a range of issues, such as how their troops will operate following their disarmament.

They also reportedly dismantled propaganda, loudspeakers and some guard posts along the militarized border.

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.

The troops began removing mines on the southern part of the two sites.

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A South Koren defence ministry spokesperson said the operation had begun on both sides, though there has been no confirmation by the North. It is believed that there are tens of thousands of landmines in the two areas to be cleared.

The troops in the JSA used to be allowed to freely move across the military demarcation line (MDL) before the 1976 "axe murder incident" in which North Korean soldiers killed two US soldiers who were trimming a tree in the DMZ.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says recent military agreements will "end all hostile acts at the land, sea and sky between South and North Korea". "Peace can continue only when we have power and are confidant of protecting ourselves".

The pair of pooches will join South Korea's incumbent First Dog, Tori, who was adopted by Moon in 2017. Critics of his engagement policy have lambasted the recent inter-Korean military deals, saying a mutual reduction of conventional military strength would weaken South Korea's war readiness because the North's nuclear program remains largely intact.

Many experts say the fate of inter-Korean deals can be affected by how nuclear negotiations go between the United States and North Korea. They expressed support for the project during talks last month in Pyongyang, the North's capital. Kim reportedly offered the canines during the third inter-Korean summit, held in Pyongyang last month. -North Korean nuclear diplomacy. But Trump, Pompeo and other USA officials have recently reported progress in denuclearization discussions with the North. Pompeo is to make his third trip to North Korea soon.

Testing done in Hawaii confirmed they belong to South Korean war dead.

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