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N. Korea seeks to open new international flight route via S. Korean airspace

All Headlines 16:33 May 08, 2018

SEOUL, May 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is seeking to open a new international flight route via South Korean airspace in an apparent move to expand its diplomatic outreach and exchanges with the outside world, Seoul's foreign ministry said Tuesday.

Pyongyang recently made the proposal to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to create the flight route to a third country, which links the flight information regions (FIRs) in Pyongyang and the South Korean western port city of Incheon.

The FIR, assigned to an ICAO member, is a specific region in which basic air traffic services are provided for the safe and efficient passage of flights.

"The issue of establishing a new flight route that the North has raised through the ICAO is being reviewed by (Seoul's) Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport," ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk told reporters.

This photo, taken on April 3, 2018, shows Noh Kyu-duk, the spokesman of South Korea's foreign ministry, speaking during a press briefing at the ministry's building in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The North's proposal comes amid its diplomatic drive that appears aimed at easing the effects of sanctions and improving ties with the outside world to cultivate an image of a "normal" state, analysts noted.

Meanwhile, the ministry spokesman said that "complete denuclearization," an expression included in the recent inter-Korean summit declaration, apparently "encompasses many elements," amid a debate over its exact meaning.

Following the summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on April 27, they issued the Panmunjom Declaration, which includes the expression.

Kim's agreement on the phrase is seen as a positive sign, but skepticism lingered as the declaration lacked specifics, such as the timeline and other details about how the two sides' nuclear-free peninsula vision would materialize.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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