The North and South Korean troops have started to remove landmines along the heavily fortified border, Joint Security Area (JSA), in an attempt to decrease tensions in the divided peninsula. The 20-day exercise began on Monday.
A South Koren defence ministry spokesperson said the operation had begun on both sides, though there has been no confirmation by the North.
More than 800,000 mines are believed to have been planted along the border during and after the 1950-1953 Korean War to defend against infiltration.
The JSA, also known as the ‘truce village’ of Panmunjom, is the only spot along the tense, 250km “demilitarised zone” (DMZ) border where troops from the two countries stand face to face. It is often used as a venue for talks between the two Koreas, including the two summits between Kim and Moon this summer.
UNC spokesman Colonel Chad Carroll declined to confirm if the command would also withdraw any weapons from the JSA but said American forces would provide support for the demining operation.
“United States Forces Korea will perform a support role – to include having air medical evacuation assets available to respond within minutes of any potential medical emergencies,” he told Reuters in a statement.