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(2nd LD) Koreas holding talks on railway cooperation

All Headlines 14:21 June 26, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS unification ministry's press briefing in paras 7,8)

PANMUNJOM, Korea, June 26 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- The two Koreas are holding talks to discuss cooperation on connecting and modernizing railways running across their border Tuesday as part of efforts to follow up on their recent summit agreement.

The meeting began at around 10 a.m. on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom, according to the unification ministry.

South Korea sent a three-member delegation led by Vice Transport Minister Kim Jeong-ryeol. His counterpart is Vice Railroad Minister Kim Yun-hyok.

This photo provided by joint press corps shows South Korea's chief delegate Kim Jeong-ryeol (R) shaking hands with his North Korean counterpart Kim Yun-hyok before starting talks on railway cooperation at the truce village of Panmunjom on June 26, 2018. (Yonhap)

"A long period of time has passed by before we meet again, but I think our mind and determination about railway cooperation remain unchanged," the North's chief delegate said at the start of the meeting.

Kim said that railways could play a key role in economic development, expressing hope that the two sides will work together to make things advance in the field.

South Korea's chief delegate shared the hope, saying that he expects "good achievements" from Thursday's talks.

The morning session of the meeting lasted about an hour and subsequent talks are under way to discuss details, the ministry said in a press briefing.

The two sides exchanged their stances on "effective" and "practical" ways to foster railway cooperation, as agreed upon by their leaders in the April 27 summit, according to the ministry.

This marks the first time in about 10 years for the two Koreas to hold such talks on railway cooperation.

They are expected to focus on connecting and modernizing railways running across the inter-Korean border in the western and eastern parts of the Korean Peninsula.

In the western region, the two Koreas already have railways that link the South's Seoul to the North's northwestern border city of Sinuiju, but they need to be modernized for proper operation.

The two Koreas are also expected to discuss connecting their railways in the eastern region that run across the inter-Korean border, of which the Gangneung-Jejin section in the South remains severed.

Before leaving for the talks, the South's top delegate told reporters that "practically necessary matters for connecting and modernizing railways of South and North Korea," will be discussed.

"There could be limits due to sanctions, but we still have many things to discuss and study that could be pursued after the sanctions are lifted," he added, referring to multilayered sanctions imposed against the North due to its repeated missile and nuclear provocations.

The talks have been arranged to discuss follow-up measures on the agreement their leaders reached in the landmark summit in April. The two Koreas also plan to hold inter-Korean talks to boost cooperation on roads and forestry in the weeks to come.

They recently agreed to hold reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War in August, the first event of its kind since October 2015. They also promised to field join teams for some sports during the upcoming Asian Games.


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