SEOUL, Nov. 28 (Yonhap) -- A senior U.S. diplomat said Wednesday that the international community is not prepared for the construction of a railway network linking North Korea until the communist state's "final, fully verified denuclearization (FFVD)."
Marc Knapper, acting deputy assistant secretary at U.S. State Department, made the remarks during a peace forum in Seoul, as South Korea is seeking to launch a joint railway field study with Pyongyang for network across their heavily fortified border.
"To us, this bright future (for North Koreans) includes many different things ... it especially includes helping North Korea to integrate with the rest of the international community. Of course, part of this integration could include strengthening rail connection through the region," he said.
"But I think the international community has made very clear that this kind of concrete progress will not occur absent real progress on denuclearization," he added.
The American diplomat went on to say that the establishment of the railway network would require "significant lifting of sanctions," which he noted the rest of the international community is not prepared to do until FFVD.
Last week, the U.N. Security Council granted a sanctions exemption to enable the two Koreas to conduct a survey on the railway connection, a decision which analysts said appears to have been made possible with U.S. diplomatic support.
But Knapper's remarks on Wednesday were seen as indicating Washington's reluctance to see too much progress in inter-Korean cooperation projects amid a lack of substantive headway toward the North's denuclearization.
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