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INTRO: South Korean President Kim Dae-jung has 
inaugurated work on a railway link with North Korea - 
the first such project in decades. As VOA's Amy 
Bickers reports, the president says that he hopes the 
new transport link will facilitate a new era of 
reconciliation and cooperation between the two Koreas.

TEXT: South Korean President Kim Dae-jung says 
rebuilding the train line - to connect the Korean 
capitals - represents a new milestone in the peace 

Presiding at a groundbreaking ceremony in Imjingak, 
Mr. Kim said the two Koreas are beginning the work of 
merging their divided country into one - a long-term 
goal established at June's historic inter-Korean 

But no North Korean officials attended, and South 
Korea's opposition leader boycotted the event in 
protest of what he says is North Korea's failure to 
reduce military tensions on the peninsula. 

Nevertheless, President Kim says reconnecting the rail 
line sends a message to the world that the Cold War on 
the Korean Peninsula has ended and that peace has set 

South Korea will rebuild 12 kilometers of track and 
construct a four-lane highway to run beside it. It 
will cost 50 million dollars and take one year to 
complete. Among the most challenging tasks will the 
clearing of mines inside the demilitarized zone 
between the two Koreas. 

North Korea says it expects to begin work soon on the 
eight kilometers of track on its side of the frontier. 

But the two governments have yet to agree on how to 
run and operate the train line, especially at the 
border - one of the most heavily armed in the world. 
Defense ministers from the two countries are expected 
to discuss these issues when they meet for the first 
time at the end of the month.

When finished, the Seoul-Pyongyang train line will 
connect the two Koreas and extend up to the border 
between North Korean and China.  It could become part 
of an international railway providing fast, 
inexpensive trade routes through the former Soviet 
Union to Europe. (SIGNED)


18-Sep-2000 04:16 AM LOC (18-Sep-2000 0816 UTC)

Source: Voice of America

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