November 12, 2014 12:21
North Korea claims that a trans-Siberian railway project being pursued with Russia will link the isolated North with Europe over the long term. The project began late last month, first to connect the two stations in the Jaedong coalfields in South Pyongan Province and the country's western port of Nampo.
Kim Chol-ho, a spokesman for the North's railway ministry, told the Tongil Sinbo weekly last week that the railway project is only the "first phase" of a transcontinental railway connecting the two Koreas, Russia and the rest of Europe.
Kim said the 20-year project will modernize more than 3,000 km of the North's railroads and eventually realize the 2001 Moscow Declaration that called for a trans-Siberian railway from South Korea.
But experts hold out little hope. Cho Bong-hyun of the IBK Economic Research Institute in Seoul said, "Although North Korea and Russia agreed to modernize the North's railway system, the project still faces many variables and North Korea appears to think that South Korea's participation is vital."
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