April 21, 2014 13:15
The government on Sunday gave five executives of the state rail operator KORAIL permission to visit North Korea.
A delegation led by president Choi Yeon-hye had applied for approval to attend a meeting of the Organisation for Co-Operation between Railways (OSJD) in Pyongyang from April 24 to 28.
The OSJD is an international organization of railway operators in 27 former and current communist countries including China, North Korea, and ex-Soviet states.
Cooperation from the OSJD is essential if President Park Geun-hye's plans for a railway connecting Eurasia with South Korea through North Korea is to come to fruition.
South Korea has tried to become a full member of the OSJD for a long time but was thwarted every time by North Korea. Choi was invited to the meeting when KORAIL finally became an affiliate member last month.
A Unification Ministry spokesman said Choi's visit to Pyongyang "can enhance cooperation between KORAIL and the member states of OSJD."
Choi is the first head of South Korean public body to visit Pyongyang since Park was sworn in. It remains to be seen whether this will lead to more talks with North Korea over cross-border exchanges.
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