Published: Tue, October 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

North Korea says peace treaty no bargaining chip for denuclearisation

North Korea says peace treaty no bargaining chip for denuclearisation

Troops remaining in the area are to be unarmed.

Regarding Arrow Head Hill, where remains from the Korean War are believed to be buried after a fierce battle over the control of a strategically important hilltop position, the ministry aims to remove the land mines by the end of November before a joint excavation project kicks off.

Experts believe the South Korean and United States militaries had planted about 1 to 1.2 million landmines south of the DMZ, which measures 250 kilometers in length and 4 kilometers in width. In 2015, a land mine blast blamed on North Korea maimed two South Korean soldiers and pushed the Koreas to the brink of war.

During the war, an outnumbered French battalion belonging to the American-led U.N. Command repelled a series of Chinese attacks in the area in October 1952, months before a South Korean army division also turned back similar Chinese assaults.

In April, South Korea said it had stopped broadcasting propaganda via loudspeakers along the border to "ease the military tension between the two Koreas".

Critics have anxious that Moon's recent inter-Korean military deals would weaken South Korea's war readiness because the North's nuclear program remains largely intact.

KCNA said that Pyongyang was willing to take "such. steps as eternal dismantlement" of its nuclear complex "if the U.S. takes a corresponding measure" but again did not elaborate. Forensic identification tests in Hawaii confirmed they belong to South Korean war dead, according to Seoul's Defense Ministry. In a speech marking South Korea's 70th Armed Forces Day, Moon also called for a stronger national defense, saying "peace can continue only when we have power and are confidant of protecting ourselves".

But it would be the two countries' first joint demining work in more than a decade and comes amid worldwide diplomacy aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons. "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.

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.

Apparently reflecting the improving ties, North Korea sent Choe Ryong-hae, its de facto No. 2 official, to a reception hosted by the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang last week to mark China's founding anniversary.

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

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