Vincent Brooks, chief of the US-led UN Command, has offered "full support" for South Korea's ongoing operations to clear landmines in order to carry out an inter-Korean project to excavate Korean War remains in the Demilitarized Zone, his office said Wednesday.
Brooks made the remarks on Tuesday during his visit to Arrowhead Ridge, or Hill 281 in Cheorwon, 90 kilometers northeast of Seoul -- a site that the two Koreas have designated for a joint project to retrieve war remains from April to October next year.
"This effort to clear a route to the historic Arrowhead Hill has my full support," Brooks was quoted as saying. "Among the many agreed-to actions, this one is especially important because it will result in recovering the remains of the fallen during the Korean War."
The commander added that returning the remains of the fallen from the site to their countries and families is a "top priority" for him.
There were three key battles against communist forces on the notorious ridge from 1952-53. The remains of more than 200 South Korean soldiers and dozens of UN Command forces, such as US and French troops, are thought to be buried in it.
The demining task is key spadework for the excavation project, which is part of a comprehensive military agreement that the two Koreas' defense ministers signed last month after the third summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang.
The agreement fleshed out the military part of the first Moon-Kim summit declaration in April that pledged to transform the DMZ into a "peace zone" and called for joint efforts to halt "all hostile acts" against each other and practically eliminate the danger of war. (Yonhap)