North Korea has up to 60 nuclear weapons, South Korean official says

South Korea begins removing mines expects North to do same

South Korea begins removing mines, expects North to do same

It is often used as a venue for talks between the two Koreas. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to visit Pyongyang this month to try to set up a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Experts believe that there are more than 1 million land mines along the border - and civilians and soldiers alike have been killed or injured by them.

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

Seoul's Defense Ministry said the remains of about 300 South Korean, French and USA soldiers are believed to be in the area.

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. The US has said that it will not make such concessions unless the North takes substantive steps in ridding itself of nuclear weapons.

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However, three senior USA officials involved in North Korea policy previously told Reuters that no progress has been made in moving toward serious negotiations on eliminating or even halting Kim's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

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.

As part of last month's deal, guard posts and weapons will be shipped out of the JSA after the demining.

In November 2017, North Korean troops at the JSA shot one of their soldiers defecting to the South five times. They eventually plan to have 35 unarmed personnel from each side guard the village and let tourists freely cross ankle-high concrete slabs that mark the border there.

The other area being demined is around the so-called "Arrow Head Hill", where some of the war's heaviest fighting took place over a strategically important hilltop position.

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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.

"I think it's the worst-ever South-North Korean agreement that made a concession in our defense posture before (North Korean) denuclearization is achieved", Shin Wonsik, a former vice chairman of the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week.

The South's Defense Ministry says the remains were found in North Korea during a 1996-2005 excavation project between the United States and North Korea.

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

The South Korean military suspects that about 300 South Korean, French and U.S. soldiers are buried in the area.

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