November 29, 2018 09:41
The two Koreas will start a joint survey of North Korean railway lines on Friday that are to be reconnected with the South, the Unification Ministry said Wednesday. The survey will last 18 days.
The UN Security Council early this week granted South Korea an exemption from international sanctions against North Korea for the purpose of the survey.
Seoul plans a ground-breaking ceremony to connect the railroads on the east and west coasts by year's end, but no further work can be done until international sanctions against the North are lifted.
The ministry is expected to deliver about 50 tons of treatment for pine wilt disease to the North Korean border city of Kaesong overland on Thursday to protect rotting ties.
The U.S. gave the green light for the survey but reiterated that North Korea can look forward to a brighter future only if it denuclearizes.
State Department official Marc Knapper said Wednesday, "This bright future includes many different things... It especially includes helping North Korea to integrate with the rest of the international community. Of course, part of this integration could include strengthening rail connection through the region."
"But I think the international community has made very clear that this kind of concrete progress will not occur absent real progress on denuclearization," he added.
He made the remarks at the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Forum in Seoul.
He added no "significant lifting of sanctions" will be possible until final, fully verified denuclearization.
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