North Korea, South Korea begin removing land mines along border

South Korean soldiers stand guard at the truce village of Panmunjom

South Korean soldiers stand guard at the truce village of Panmunjom

Experts believe the South Korean and USA militaries have planted about 1-1.2 million mines south of the DMZ while North Korea has put about 800,000-1 million mines on its side.

"The DPRK is taking substantial and crucial steps to implement the joint statement made at the DPRK-US summit, but the US is still trying to subdue someone by resorting to sanctions", the unnamed commentary accused.

Later Monday, the South Korean military detected North Korean soldiers engaged in what it believed was demining on the northern part of the sites, a South Korean defense official said on condition of animosity, citing department rules. It refused to provide further details.

There was no immediate confirmation from North Korea that its troops had begun the demining process, but the South said it expects its neighbor to adhere to the deal.

The 20-day exercise that began on Monday saw South Korean troops clearing landmines at the Joint Security Area (JSA).

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The JSA is the only spot along the 250-km (155-mile) -long "demilitarised zone" (DMZ) where troops from both Koreas are face to face.

In 2015, a land mine blast blamed on North Korea maimed two South Korean soldiers and pushed the Koreas to the brink of war.

They have already dismantled propaganda loudspeakers and some guard posts along the border. The National Intelligence Service, South Korea's main spy agency, couldn't immediately comment.

Moon, a liberal who aspires to improve ties with North Korea and who has been a driving force behind U.S. -North Korean nuclear diplomacy.

According to South Korean officials, the number of North Korean defectors to the South has fallen since Mr Kim came to power seven years ago.

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The KCNA said North Korea has taken "substantial and crucial steps" to implement the summit agreement with the United States but that Washington is still talking about intensifying sanctions, rather than trying to resolve the end-of-war declaration issue that should have been resolved decades ago.

Many foreign experts say North Korea is likely running additional secret uranium-enrichment plants. Past rapprochement efforts were often stalled after a standoff over the North's nuclear ambitions intensified.

The North entered talks with the United States and South Korea earlier this year, saying it is willing to negotiate away its advancing nuclear arsenal.

The nuclear diplomacy later came to a standstill amid disputes over how honest North Korea is about disarmament.

South and North Korea are reported to have started removing landmines from along their heavily defended border.

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South Korea also held a ceremony on Monday marking the recent return of remains of 64 South Korean soldiers missing from the Korean War.

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