Seoul, Oct 1 The two Koreas on Monday began joint efforts to remove anti-personnel mines from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides both countries, in line with a military pact signed as part of the inter-Korean summit.
According to a statement issued by South Korea’s Defence Ministry, the mine-removal operations started around the South Korean border town of Cheorwon, near the Joint Security Zone, located in the heart of the DMZ, the only point where soldiers from both countries stand face to face.
The two Koreas were planning to carry out joint excavations from April to October 2019 to uncover the remains of fallen soldiers in the vicinity of Cheorwon, where two of the bloodiest battles in the 1950-53 Korean War took place, Yonhap news agency reported.
It is believed that the remains of some 300 UN Command troops, the multinational contingent led by the US and South Korea, rest in the area.
The mine-removing operations around the DMZ were expected to last about 20 days and about 30 in Cheorwon county, according to the statement by the Ministry.
All these tasks were agreed as part of the military pact signed by the defence ministers of both countries, during the summit held by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un between September 18 and 20 in North Korea.
Although the agreement has been criticized by some military experts in South Korea who believe that it compromises the country’s national security, it is the largest defence agreement that both countries managed since the peninsula was divided in 1945.
The pact aims to reduce troops, prohibit military manoeuvres and establish military free zones around the border to avoid clashes.