Published: Tue, October 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

North And South Korea Agree To Reconnect Roads, Rails

North And South Korea Agree To Reconnect Roads, Rails

Pompeo visited Pyongyang on October 7 and asked for at least a partial inventory of the North's nuclear facilities and stockpiles, but Kim told him that without establishing trust between Washington and Pyongyang, the USA would not believe the list even if it got it, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

In their third summit this year, Moon and Kim committed to reviving economic cooperation when possible, voicing optimism that worldwide sanctions could end and allow such activity, and holding a groundbreaking ceremony by the end of the year on an ambitious project to connect their roads and railways.

The French President insisted plans to keep their relationship this way, until the situation with North Korea "evolves".

But the agreement was short on specifics and talks have made little headway since, with the North refusing to declare its nuclear weapons and facilities or agree to a concrete timeline.

South Korea's Unification Ministry also said Monday after high-level talks that the rivals agreed to soon hold general-level military talks to discuss reducing border tensions and setting up a joint military committee that's meant to maintain communication and avoid crises and accidental clashes.

They also agreed to discuss late this month a plan to pursue a bid to co-host the 2032 Olympic Games.

A Red Cross meeting has been scheduled for November at the North's Mount Kumgang resort to discuss issues pertaining to the reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, including renovation work for a building within the resort where many reunions were held in the past.

But now, with three inter-Korean summits behind him and an upcoming visit by Kim Jong Un to Seoul potentially later this year, Moon is making South Korea's interest in sanctions relief apparent.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said it was meaningful that the Koreas are getting faster in reaching agreements as their diplomacy gains traction. So far, only Russian Federation and China - who actually signed onto a trilateral memorandum with senior North Korean diplomat Choe Son Hui earlier this month - support sanctions relief.

At the most recent summit between Moon and Kim, the two leaders committed to reviving economic cooperation when possible, voicing optimism that global sanctions could end and allow such activity.

South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, left, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Ri Son-gwon at the Peace House in Panmunjom Monday.

Both sides will also withdraw all firearms from the Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjom, cut to 35 each the numbers of personnel stationed there, in line with the armistice pact, and share information on surveillance gear.

However, South Korea's enthusiasm for engagement with its rival appears to have created discomfort with the United States, a key ally.

Mr Trump said last Wednesday South Korea would not lift sanctions on North Korea without United States approval.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed "discontent" over the inter-Korean military agreement, South Korea's foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha said last week.

The thaw in ties between the neighbors has sparked US concerns that it may be outpacing negotiations to dismantle the North's nuclear and missile programs.

Cho says it was ultimately his call to exclude Kim Myeong-seong from pool coverage for the meeting at the border village of Panmunjom. But he didn't offer a straightforward answer when asked whether he would make the same decision in the future.

The decision to exclude the reporter from the conservative Chosun Ilbo on Monday drew an angry reaction from other South Korean journalists.

After his visit this month Pompeo said Kim had agreed to allow worldwide inspectors to visit a nuclear test site that the North dismantled in May but did not elaborate on any offers made by the U.S. in return.

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