Koreas hold groundbreaking ceremony for rail, road border connect

Koreas hold groundbreaking ceremony for rail, road border connect

Koreas hold groundbreaking ceremony for rail, road border connect

The groundbreaking ceremony was held for a project to modernize and link railways and roads across the inter-Korean border along the eastern and western Korean Peninsula.

Actual construction work can not begin as nuclear and missile sanctions are in place on North Korea.

The two Koreas on Wednesday launched a project to reconnect rail and road links severed since the 1950-53 Korean War, but actual construction can not start while sanctions remain in place against North Korea, officials said.

But the North's top railway official Kim Yun Hyok reiterated Pyongyang's stance that the South stop toeing the United States (US) line on maintaining sanctions on the North until it gives up its nuclear weapons. Also Russia, China and Mongolia, as well as the economic and social Commission for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations (UNESCAP) sent a representative, showing that the project is not limited to the Korean Peninsula.

The two Koreas held a symbolic event Wednesday to signal the start of their grand project to reconnect severed inter-Korean railways.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held, but it was a symbolic event only as the two Koreas were banned from launching construction work for the railway and road connection because of worldwide sanctions on the DPRK.

Qiu Guoghong, China's Ambassador to South Korea, said he looked forward to taking a train from Seoul to Beijing via Pyongyang.

In her address, South Korean Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee stressed the enormous possibilities that lay ahead for the two Koreas in an era of renewed cooperation.

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In the past weeks, North and South Korea each have dismantled or disarmed 11 of their border guard posts as part of agreements to reduce tensions that were reached during their leaders' summit in Pyongyang in September. But it continues to stress that the sanctions will remain in place unless noteworthy progress is made on stalled nuclear talks with North Korea and that steps in inter-Korean ties should be in tandem with the talks.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said the two Koreas plan to draw up blueprints and designs for the envisioned inter-Korean railways after conducting additional surveys.

The same thawing also saw American President Donald Trump meet with Kim in Singapore for the first ever summit between the two countries.

"We plan to hold detailed negotiations with the North to coordinate on the specific levels we want to achieve in the modernisation of railways and roads and how to carry out the project", said Eugene Lee, the ministry's spokeswoman.

"South Korea has expressed its views, but there are some factual mistakes", Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said at a news conference Tuesday.

"I would say this ceremony is a 'useful lie, '" Andrei Lankov, a Russian scholar who teaches North Korean studies at Kookmin University, told ABC News.

Sanctions ban the importation of any construction material into North Korea, and also would forbid any investment in a project that would improve North Korea's infrastructure.

In December 2007, the Koreas began freight services between the South's Munsan Station in Paju and the North's Panmun Station to support a joint factory in Kaesong. However, due to sanctions that are still in place on North Korea, no trains will be allowed to travel along this route for the time being.

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