(LEAD) Koreas in talks to launch joint railway inspection this week
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SEOUL, Nov. 26 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea are in talks to launch a joint railway inspection this week as part of efforts to modernize and eventually connect railway systems of the two Koreas over their border, the unification ministry said Monday.
"The government has a stance to seek inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation within the framework of global sanctions," Baik Tae-hyun, a ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing.
"And relevant preparations are underway in order to make a (railway) joint survey take place this week through consultations with the North," he added.
Over the weekend, the United Nations granted a sanctions exemption, allowing the joint survey to be carried out on the railway across the border of the two Koreas.
The survey is part of a summit agreement between the two Koreas to modernize and connect their railways in both their eastern and western regions. They earlier agreed to hold a groundbreaking ceremony within this year.
In August, the U.S.-led United Nations Command disapproved a plan to conduct a survey on a section of the railway from Seoul in South Korea to Sinuiju in North Korea, citing procedural problems.
The move was seen as reflecting Washington's displeasure with faster-paced inter-Korean cooperation and a possible violation of sanctions amid all but stalled denuclearization talks with the North.
"We will have to fix the schedule for the joint survey through consultations with the North first and then push to have discussions with the UNC with that finalized timetable," the spokesman said.
"The two Koreas agreed in their Pyongyang Declaration to hold the groundbreaking ceremony within this year," he added. "It is expected that the two Koreas will have close consultations as they carry out the joint survey to make such inter-Korean agreements implemented."
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