TITLE=KOREAS/RAILWAY UPDATE (L)
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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