Wednesday 16 October 2019

North and South Korea announce project to connect transport links

The nations will also hold talks on setting up a joint military committee that is meant to avoid crises and accidental clashes.

North Korean and South Korean representatives shake hands (Korea Pool/Yonhap via AP)
North Korean and South Korean representatives shake hands (Korea Pool/Yonhap via AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

North and South Korea have agreed to hold a ceremony on a project to connect their railways and roads.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry have also said after high-level talks that the rival nations agreed to hold general-level military talks to discuss reducing border tensions.

It also said the neighbouring countries will hold talks on setting up a joint military committee that is meant to maintain communication and avoid crises and accidental clashes.

The Koreas also agreed to hold talks between sports officials in late October to discuss plans to send combined teams to the 2020 Summer Olympics and make a push to co-host the 2032 summer games.

They also agreed to hold Red Cross talks in November to set up video-conference meetings between ageing relatives separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

South Korean unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon, right, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Ri Son Gwon (Korea Pool/Yonhap via AP)

The talks at the border village of Panmunjom were aimed at finding ways to carry out peace agreements announced after a summit last month between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

At the summit, the third this year between Mr Moon and Mr Kim, the two leaders committed to reviving economic co-operation when possible, voicing optimism that international sanctions could end and allow such activity, and holding a groundbreaking ceremony by the end of the year on the project to connect their roads and railways.

The Koreas agreed to hold the ceremony in late November or early December.

They also announced measures to reduce conventional military threats, such as creating buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries and a no-fly zone above the border, removing 11 front-line guard posts by December, and demining sections of the Demilitarised Zone.

Mr Moon has described inter-Korean engagement as crucial to resolving the nuclear stand-off and is eager to restart joint economic projects held back by sanctions if nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea begin yielding results.

However, South Korea’s enthusiasm for engagement with its rival appears to have created discomfort with key ally, the United States.

Mr Moon’s government last week walked back a proposal to lift some of its unilateral sanctions against North Korea following US President Donald Trump’s blunt retort that Seoul could “do nothing” without Washington’s approval.

South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha also said US secretary of state Mike Pompeo expressed displeasure about the Koreas’ military agreements.

Ms Kang was not specific, but her comments fuelled speculation that Washington was not fully on board before Seoul signed the agreement.

Mr Trump has encouraged US allies to maintain sanctions on North Korea until it denuclearises to maintain a campaign of pressure against Mr Kim’s government.

PA Media

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