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North Korea says war's end can't be bargaining chip for denuclearization: KCNA

North Korea says war's end can't be bargaining chip for denuclearization: KCNA

However, he said American forces would provide support for the demining operation.

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

The move was agreed upon during a meeting last month in Pyongyang by the leaders of the two Koreas, Kim Jong Un in the North and Moon Jae-in in the South.

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.

They have already dismantled propaganda loudspeakers and some guard posts along the border.

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

South Korean troops have gradually taken over most operations along the DMZ, but global forces under the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) retain major roles, especially at the JSA, where an American commander and a South Korean deputy lead the security battalion.

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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 DMZ is the world's most heavily fortified border that is also guarded by hundreds of thousands of combat troops, barbed wire fences and tank traps on both sides.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says recent military agreements will "end all hostile acts at the land, sea and sky between South and North Korea".

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. Past rapprochement efforts were often stalled after a standoff over the North's nuclear ambitions intensified.

Nuclear diplomacy later came to a standstill amid disputes over how genuine North Korea is about its disarmament pledge.

The remarks were widely interpreted as a "rare gesture" to worries that progress in nuclear negotiations may lead North Korea to escalate its campaign to disband the United Nations Command (UNC) and undermine the military alliance between South Korea and the United States.

Moon has advocated dialogue with the isolated North to nudge it toward denuclearisation. It is believed that South Korean, United States, French and Chinese soldiers are buried there.

The commentary Tuesday by the North's official news agency said a declaration replacing a 65-year-old armistice to formally end the war "is not just a gift from a man to another", and added, "it can never be a bargaining chip for getting the DPRK denuclearized". Forensic identification tests in Hawaii confirmed they belong to South Korean war dead, according to Seoul's Defense Ministry.


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