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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

All News 16:00 December 28, 2018

SEOUL, Dec. 28 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

Cheong Wa Dae forecasts N.K. leader's visit to Seoul may materialize 'in near future'

SEOUL, Dec. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Friday that the much anticipated trip to Seoul by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may materialize in the near future, though it will be difficult to occur this year.

Seoul has been pushing for Kim's unprecedented trip in the hopes that it will help further improve cross-border ties and give an impetus to the ongoing diplomatic efforts to denuclearize North Korea and establish a lasting peace regime on the peninsula.

During the third summit between President Moon Jae-in and Kim in Pyongyang in September, Kim agreed to visit the South to reciprocate his South Korean counterpart's visit to the communist state.

Gov't sent back N. Korean sailors to Pyongyang: ministry

SEOUL, Dec. 22 (Yonhap) -- The Unification Ministry said Saturday the government has repatriated three North Korean sailors and the body of one deceased sailor after they were retrieved from East Sea by the local Coast Guard.

Their ship was found adrift in South Korean waters of the East Sea on Thursday and three of them were rescued by the authorities, the ministry said.

The Coast Guard also retrieved the body of the fourth sailor. Further details about what happened to the sailors and the boat were not known.

N.K. media slam S. Korea over participation in U.N. human rights resolution

SEOUL, Dec. 23 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's media on Sunday denounced South Korea for participating in the passage of a U.N. resolution condemning the communist state's human rights abuses, despite ongoing trust-building efforts.

The U.N. passed the resolution at a Dec. 17 meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, marking the 14th consecutive year such a document has passed the global body. It criticized the "long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights" by the North.

"The South Korean authorities expressed support for the U.S.' anti-Pyongyang ploy to condemn the human rights situation," Uriminzokkiri, the North's external propaganda website, said, calling Seoul's participation a "doubled-faced attitude."

S. Koreans leave for N. Korea to check road conditions

SEOUL, Dec. 24 (Yonhap) -- A team of South Korean officials left for North Korea on Monday to check the overall conditions of a road in western North Korea as part of a project to modernize and reconnect roads over the inter-Korean border, the unification ministry said.

About 10 South Koreans, mostly from the unification and transport ministries, crossed into the North at around 8:30 a.m. via the western inter-Korean border to conduct the inspection of the 4-kilometer section of road along the North's Gyeongui line, according to the ministry.

They will return home at around 5 p.m. on the same day, it added.

Koreas to discuss Seoul's provision of Tamiflu to N. Korea

SEOUL, Dec. 24 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea will discuss Seoul's provision of antiviral medication to the North as part of cooperative efforts in the medical and health sectors across the border, the unification ministry said Monday.

The discussion on offering Tamiflu to North Korea will be held this week through an "exchange of documents" between the Koreas, according to the ministry.

The Koreas will likely discuss how much and in what ways the drugs and early detection kits will be delivered to Pyongyang.

U.N. grants sanctions exemption for inter-Korean project's groundbreaking ceremony

SEOUL, Dec. 25 (Yonhap) -- The United Nations Security Council has granted a sanctions waiver to enable the Koreas to hold a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for their project to modernize and reconnect roads and railways across the border this week, a Seoul official said Tuesday.

South and North Korea are preparing to hold the event Wednesday at Panmun Station in the North's border town of Kaesong. The project is part of the summit agreement reached between their leaders in April aimed at fostering balanced development and co-prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.

"Consultations over the groundbreaking ceremony with the council's North Korea sanctions committee were wrapped up Monday, New York time," a foreign ministry official said.

Koreas hold symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for inter-Korean railway and road project

SEOUL/PANMUN STATION, Dec. 26 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- South and North Korea held a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for an inter-Korean project to modernize and reconnect roads and railways across their heavily armed border.

The ceremony started at Panmun Station in the North's border town of Kaesong at around 10 a.m. with high-ranking officials from the two Koreas on hand.

A special train carrying some 100 South Korean participants arrived at the station earlier to attend the event. Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, parliamentary leaders, and other road and railway officials and experts were among them.

Outcome of joint inspections on N. Korea's roads, railways to come out early next year: official

SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will push to draw up an overall timetable on how to modernize and connect roads and railways over the border with North Korea after the outcome of joint inspections come out early next year, a unification ministry official said Thursday.

The two Koreas held a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday at the North's border town of Kaesong to mark the symbolic launch of the inter-Korean project that their leaders agreed to in April to foster balanced development and co-prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.

"It will take some time (before drawing up a road map) since South and North Korea need to have discussions based on the result of their (recent) joint inspections," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

S. Korea to provide N. Korea with Tamiflu soon: unification minister

SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will provide North Korea with the antiviral medication Tamiflu in the near future, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said Thursday.

Speaking at a forum on inter-Korean healthcare cooperation, Cho said the envisioned aid will be helpful in building mutual trust with the North.

A unification ministry official said earlier that the aid is likely to be delivered in mid-January.

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