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(2nd LEAD) S. Korean officials return home after visiting N. Korea for joint inspection of forests

All News 19:54 August 08, 2018

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS info in paras 1-2, 4-5)

SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea agreed to devise pest control measures during working-level meetings followed by a joint inspection of forests in the North, the unification ministry said Monday.

Earlier in the day, a 12-member team of South Korean officials left for North Korea to conduct joint inspection of forests and seek ways to protect trees from harmful insects and diseases.

The officials led by a senior forest agency policymaker crossed into Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast, where they jointly examined the forests there, according to the ministry.

After the on-site inspection, the two sides had meetings where they shared notes on effective pest control and the modernization of tree nurseries where trees are grown for propagation.

The ministry said the two will devise up more concrete, detailed measures in the near future after consulting experts.

The one-day trip follows up on the agreement reached during working-level inter-Korean talks early last month for forestry cooperation.

They agreed to cooperate in protecting forests along the inter-Korean border and in other areas from damage caused by harmful insects and diseases.

The two Koreas conducted a similar on-site inspection in July 2015 near Mount Kumgang. Two months later, they carried out efforts to fight insects and other damage, which was said to have cost them over 100 million won (US$89,400).

Meanwhile, the North will send six transport officials to the South on Thursday to hold a meeting and discuss details related to their cooperation in modernizing and possibly connecting railways over their border, the ministry said.

The meeting, the second of its kind, will be held at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) office in Paju, just south of the inter-Korean border.

It came after their first meeting in Kaesong last month to discuss the outcome of an inspection of the conditions of the 15.3 kilometer-long railways from the North's border town to the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) that separates the two Koreas.

In April, the leaders of the two Koreas agreed to work together on modernizing and connecting railways over their border as part of efforts to deepen ties.


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