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(LEAD) UNSC grants sanctions exemption for inter-Korean excavation of DMZ war remains: source

11:19 January 28, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 4-6)

SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) has granted a sanctions exemption for an inter-Korean project to excavate Korean War remains in the Demilitarized Zone, a diplomatic source said Monday.

The UNSC made the decision last week as Seoul sought the exemption to ensure that the delivery of equipment into the communist state for the project will not be impeded by anti-Pyongyang sanctions.

The Koreas plan to carry out the project on Arrowhead Ridge, a notorious battle site of the 1950-53 Cold War conflict, from April to October under last year's bilateral military accord aimed at reducing tensions, preventing accidental clashes and building trust.

During inter-Korean general-grade talks last year, Pyongyang requested that Seoul provide equipment to demine the North's side of the related area for the excavation project, another source said.

In response, Seoul's defense ministry consulted the foreign ministry over whether the supplying of equipment would contravene the U.N. sanctions regime.

The ministry is reportedly considering purchasing foreign mine-clearing machines, such as the Swiss-made GCS-100, Germany's Minewolf and Croatia's MV-4, and supplying the North with one in the form of a lease.

During the "working-group" meeting via videoconferencing on Jan. 17, Seoul and Washington reached a consensus over the sanctions exemption for the project.

The excavation project is a key part of the inter-Korean military accord. The accord includes a series of confidence-building and arms control measures, including disarming the Joint Security Area, withdrawing some border guard posts and setting up air, maritime and ground buffer zones.

South Korean troops engage in a demining operation in the Demilitarized Zone on Oct. 2, 2018, to pave the way for an inter-Korean project to excavate Korean War remains in this photo provided by the Joint Press Corps. (Yonhap)

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