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(2nd LD) N. Korea proposes connecting int'l air routes over border with S. Korea

All Headlines 16:04 November 16, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES headline, throughout)

SEOUL, Nov. 16 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Friday proposed connecting international air routes along the western and eastern coasts of the Korean Peninsula during the first-ever inter-Korean meeting on aviation cooperation, Seoul's unification ministry said.

South Korea agreed to hold further discussion on the issue through meetings of aviation authorities, according to the ministry.

"The South and the North also agreed to keep having discussion on the overall cooperation in the aviation sector," the ministry said in a text message sent to reporters.

The ministry did not provide more details on what was discussed during the talks.

The meeting was held at the joint liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong. North Korea is said to have requested the meeting.

Son Myung-soo, a senior official of the transport ministry, led the South Korean delegation. His North Korean counterpart is Ri Yong-son, deputy director-general of the General Administration of Civil Aviation.

The unification ministry that handles North Korea affairs earlier said that the Koreas will discuss "issues of mutual concern" related to inter-Korean aviation cooperation but did not provide further details.

Experts said that among the agenda items could be opening a direct route for passenger airplanes between the Koreas, which the government believes is possible even under the current sanctions regime.

Another issue likely to be discussed was the North's earlier proposal with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to allow its airplanes to fly through South Korea's airspace to third countries. They added that repairing decrepit airports in North Korea could also be dealt with during Friday's meeting.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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