Two Koreas’ military cooperate on links

SEOUL, Reuters

Military officials from North and South Korea pledged on Tuesday to cooperate on building road and railway links across their heavily militarized border, a spokesman for the South’s Defence Ministry said. Five military officials from each side held working-level talks at the U.N. truce village of Panmunjom, the sole meeting point for the two Korea’s which remain technical foes because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armed truce that remains in effect. “The two sides exchanged their construction plans and confirmed each other’s position on related military issues,” the spokesman told Reuters. “They also pledged cooperation for the historic project which will relink the divided peninsula,” the ministry said in a statement. The railroad, which is due to be completed by next September, would run 318 km (200 miles) from Seoul to Sinuiju, a city on North Korea’s border with mainland China. The statement said the officials discussed the issue of designating an area for joint management within the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and removing land mines. More than a million land mines are thought to be strewn along the four-kilometer (2.5-mile) wide DMZ that stretches across the peninsula, including several thousand in the area where the road and rail links are planned. North Korea and the U.N. Command signed an agreement at Panmunjom earlier this month turning the administration of the southern part of the DMZ over to South Korea. The two Koreas plan to discuss details on guaranteeing military security for the inter-Korean construction project in the next working-level talks which are scheduled for Dec. 5, the statement said. The ministry spokesman said North Korea would inform the South of the schedule of the second round of talks between defense ministers as the working-level talks progress. The first round of defense minister talks was held on the South’s resort island of Cheju in late September. South Korea has agreed to a fourth round of ministerial level talks between the two countries in Pyongyang from Dec. 12 to 15, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said on Monday.