(ATTN: ADDS unification minister's remarks in last 2 paras)
SEOUL, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea held a second meeting of their joint road research group Monday but failed to fix the dates for any additional field examinations necessary for their reconnection, the unification ministry said.
"During today's meeting, the two Koreas primarily discussed where and in what ways they will conduct field examinations with regard to roads along their eastern and western coasts and agreed to have further discussions," the ministry said in a text message sent to reporters.
Five South Korean officials, led by Paek Seung-geun, an assistant minister of land, infrastructure and transport, earlier held a meeting with their North Korean counterparts at the joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong.
It was their second meeting and followed their first gathering on Aug. 13 and a subsequent weeklong survey of the western roads between Kaesong and Pyongyang, the North's capital. They have yet to fix a date for a survey of eastern roads.
During Monday's talks, the ministry said that the two sides agreed there should be further discussion with regard to the outcome of the August survey of the western roads and they will determine the dates for their future talks through an exchange of documents.
Such field surveys are part of efforts to figure out the exact condition of roads in the region as the two Koreas are pushing to modernize and eventually connect them across their border.
The prospects for the joint project, however, remain unclear as it is apparently faced with opposition from the United States, which has voiced concerns over faster progress in inter-Korean relations than in denuclearization talks with North Korea.
South and North Korea had separately planned to conduct a joint survey of cross-border railway lines in the western region in late October, but it has yet to begin as consultations with the U.S. have not been completed.
The two Koreas earlier agreed to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the joint work on the road and railway connections in late November or early December following the planned field surveys.
Meanwhile, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told lawmakers that many countries, including China and Russia, appear to be keenly interested in the inter-Korean projects on road and railway connections.
He emphasized that it is necessary for South Korea go ahead with the joint work fast, saying that serious challenges could arise if it falls behind other foreign countries' advances in a field where technology standards are of great importance.
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