South Korea begins removing mines, expects North to do same

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But Trump, Pompeo and other USA officials have recently reported progress in the denuclearization discussions with the North. Pompeo is to make his third trip to North Korea soon for talks.

After the latest summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang last month, the two countries' defense chiefs signed the agreement fleshing out the military part of the April Moon-Kim summit declaration, which promised to halt "all hostile acts" against each other and practically eliminate the danger of war. Forensic identification tests in Hawaii confirmed they belong to South Korean war dead, according to Seoul's Defense Ministry.

The North has for decades demanded that the United States formally declare the end of the 1950-53 conflict that was halted only with an armistice, saying an official end to the war would ease tensions on the flashpoint peninsula.

While the North Korean army has not revealed exactly when and where the removal operation would occur, South Korea's Ministry of National Defense said similar steps would be seen inside the North's territory.

Stanford University scholars, including nuclear physicist Siegfried Hecker who visited North Korea's centrifuge facility at Nyongbyon in 2010, wrote earlier this year that North Korea is estimated to have a highly enriched uranium inventory of 250 to 500kgs (550 to 1,100lbs), sufficient for 25 to 30 nuclear devices.

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The deal also provides for removal of guard posts and weapons from the JSA to follow the removal of the mines, with the troops remaining there to be left unarmed.

North Korea has called on the United States to actively engage in talks on declaring an end to the Korean War, which was halted in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty. 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 ceasefire that halted the bloody conflict that sealed the division of the Korean peninsula was signed by the North, its military ally China and the USA - which fought on the side of the South.

Propaganda loudspeakers and some guard posts along the border have already been dismantled. "It is also the most basic and primary process for the establishment of new DPRK-US relations and peace mechanism on the Korean peninsula, to which the US was also committed", the KCNA added. Kim Jong Un has subsequently held a series of summits with U.S., South Korean and Chinese leaders and taken some steps like dismantling his nuclear-testing site. But it said the U.S.is "trying to subdue" it through sanctions - a clear call for Washington to lift sanctions if it wants further progress in their stalled nuclear negotiations.

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