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S. Korea to do preparatory work for reopening Kaesong park, Mount Kumgang tours: ministry

All Headlines 14:43 March 18, 2019

SEOUL, March 18 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry said Monday it will do preparatory work, under the framework of global sanctions, for the reopening of two major suspended cross-border economic cooperation projects with North Korea.

In a report to a parliamentary foreign affairs and reunification committee, the ministry said that it will create an environment for restarting an industrial complex in the North's border town of Kaesong and a tour program to Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast.

South Korea closed the Kaesong industrial park in 2016 in retaliation for the North's nuclear and missile provocations. The tour program to Mount Kumgang was halted in 2008 when a South Korean tourist was killed by a North Korean soldier.

S. Korea to do preparatory work for reopening Kaesong park, Mount Kumgang tours: ministry - 1

Washington appears to be wary of Seoul pushing to restart the two suspended projects as it could undermine global sanctions on Pyongyang amid a stalemate in nuclear talks following the breakdown of last month's summit in Hanoi between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea.

Seoul thinks the resumption of those projects, and expanding cross-border contacts, will help move the stalled denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang forward by boosting a peace mood on the Korean Peninsula.

The ministry said that it will also push for a project with North Korea to modernize and reconnect railways and roads across their border, under the framework of global sanctions, based on surveys they conducted together last year on the state of the North's rails and roads.

The ministry added that it will work to arrange video reunions, along with exchanges of video messages, among those separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, as agreed by their leaders last year.

Seoul recently secured sanctions waivers from the U.S. and the U.N. Security Council on image-sending equipment needed for video reunions and the ministry handling inter-Korean affairs said that it is seeking to hold working-level talks with the North to set up video reunions.

The separated families issue is one of the most pressing humanitarian matters for the Koreas as more aging Koreans have passed away without a chance to meet their kin across the border.

South and North Korea held their latest face-to-face family reunions at the Mount Kumgang resort in August. It was the first such event in about three years.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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