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North, South Korea Agree to Reconnect Transportation Links - 2002-08-30


North and South Korean officials have agreed to reconnect severed rail and road links across their common border. The South has also agreed to deliver food and fertilizer aid to the North.

Officials from the two Koreas agree that, before building begins on transport links, military personnel from the North and South will discuss clearing mines and razor wire from the border area. The decision comes at the end of three days of talks in Seoul.

A South Korean official says, if military talks are successful, building will begin on September 18. Seoul says it will provide Pyongyang with building material and equipment.

South Korea says one rail link and road, on the western side of the peninsula, could be completed by the end of this year. Work on a second railway, on the eastern side, will start later.

The proposal to reconnect road and rail links emerged at a landmark summit held by the leaders of the two Koreas in 2000.

Since then, South Korea has completed work on its side of the border, but North Korea has made little progress on its side.

Under Friday's agreement, South Korea also agrees to deliver 400,000 tons of rice and 100,000 tons of fertilizer to the impoverished North. An earlier promise of food aid to the North was withdrawn, after a naval clash between the two countries in June.

This agreement is the latest move in warming relations between North and South Korea. Local media reports in Seoul also suggest the North Korean Red Cross has proposed setting up a permanent meeting place for reuniting families separated by the division of the peninsula. In addition, Pyongyang has promised to take part in the Asian Games being held in South Korea next month.

The Korean peninsula was divided into the Communist North and the capitalist South in 1945. They remain technically at war, as the Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953, instead of a peace treaty.

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