Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Trump reaffirms second North Korea summit plan

South Korea to send trains to North Korea in joint survey to connect railways separated since Korean War North Korean soldier defects to South
Andrew Cummings | 02 December, 2018, 12:44

A North Korean soldier fled across the heavily fortified frontier Saturday, the military said, a rare escape that presents the first test of recent military tension-reduction measures by the two adversaries. Moon and Kim specifically agreed to hold a tape-cutting ceremony by the end of this year to mark the beginning of an inter-Korean project connecting roads and railways between the two countries.

The survey will cover two rail corridors in North Korean territory, one on the country's eastern side and another along the western coast.

U.S. President Donald Trump says his next meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un is likely to happen in January or February.

An official of South Korea's National Defense Ministry made the announcement Friday, adding the two Koreas will make visits across the border next month to verify the completed work. He also said his administration is ready to lift the sanctions on North Korea, but asserted that Pyongyang has to be "responsive" to Washington. A freight train that ran from Dorasan Station in the South to Panmun Station in the North was stopped on November 28, 2008, after inter-Korean relations became strained.

Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mi said the farewell ceremony signified the beginning of inter-Korean co-prosperity and a "catalyst expanding the economic territory of the Korean Peninsula, which had been isolated like an island, to the Eurasian continent".

The six-carriage train is transporting 28 South Koreans including railway engineers and other personnel, and carrying 55 tonnes of fuel and an electricity generator.

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There is a passenger coach, a sleeping coach, an office coach and a wagon loaded with water for showers and laundry.

They ran cargo train services between Dorasan Station and Panmun Station for about a year until 2008, when they came to a halt amid frozen inter-Korean relations. Seoul took 55,000 liters (14,529 gallons) of diesel, a UN-sanctioned item, to the North for the journey.

"You will visit train stations and cross hills and rivers in North Korea no outsiders have visited", Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told the survey team, according to the Washington Post.

They will travel some 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles) on railway tracks together, the transport ministry said.

It comes as North and South Korea push to implement a wide-ranging military agreement reached in September to reduce tensions across their border.

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