Seoul to work on South-side sections of railways for cross-border reconnection project
SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will try to repair its own sections of cross-border roads and railways as part of a project to reconnect them across the border, the unification ministry said Tuesday, as the project has remained stalled for more than a year.
South and North Korea agreed to reconnect severed railways and roads between the two Koreas, following up on a summit agreement in 2018, and held an event to mark the launch of the project late in the same year.
South Korean experts and officials visited the North on several occasions to inspect the conditions of its railways and roads. But actual construction has not been launched amid chilled inter-Korean relations and concerns over its violation of global sanctions on Pyongyang.
"While continuing our efforts to connect and modernize the railways and roads between the two Koreas, we will carry out work first on our sections of rails," the ministry said in a report on key cross-border issues submitted to lawmakers.
"We intend to expand space for inter-Korean relations with efforts centering on major cooperative projects between the South and the North," the ministry added.
The move is in line with President Moon Jae-in's initiative to expand cooperation with the North in the belief that it will help ease tensions and provide much-needed impetus for the stalled denuclearization negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington.
South Korea has called for cross-border cooperation and talks, but the North has stayed mum on the offers, accusing Seoul of failing to take the lead in inter-Korean affairs for fear of U.S. objection.
With regard to cooperation in other areas, the unification ministry also said that it is necessary for the two Koreas to cooperate in fighting infectious disease, including the globally spreading new coronavirus, saying that it will explore ways to work together with the North by reflecting on situations both in South and North Korea.
South Korea has reported 31 confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection, but the North has yet to confirm any outbreak, though it has stepped up its preventive efforts against the virus that originated in its neighboring country, China.
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