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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia, South and North Koreas set to discuss railway link

RIA Novosti

14/12/2007 16:20 MOSCOW, December 14 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea has agreed to hold trilateral talks with Russia and South Korea on a railway project linking the Korean peninsula with Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway, the industry watchdog head said Friday.

"We are currently working on preparations for another round of trilateral talks to promote this project," Konstantin Pulikovsky, the head of Rostekhnadzor, said. "North Korea has officially confirmed its readiness to hold this meeting."

If the project goes ahead freight trains capable of delivering up to 200,000 containers per year will take 10-12 days to transport cargo from South Korea to Europe via North Korea and Russia.

"The project implementation to restore the Trans-Korean railway and its further link with the Trans-Siberian Railway would have tremendous long-term economic impact, saving considerable time and reducing freight costs from South Korea to Russia and Europe," Pulikovsky said.

On Tuesday both Koreas resumed a regular train service between the two countries after a hiatus of more than half a century, in a step hailed by Seoul as a major breakthrough in rebuilding economic ties

The first 12-wagon cargo train carrying raw materials left South Korea's Munsan station early Tuesday morning for the Kaesong industrial park just inside the North. The freight-only service currently runs daily on weekdays.

In November the two Koreas agreed on a range of projects aimed at rebuilding the impoverished North's decaying infrastructure, including South Korean plans to build a shipyard in the northwest of the country and to repair the highway linking Kaesong to the capital, Pyongyang.

The two states have yet to sign a formal peace agreement to replace the ceasefire following the 1950-1953 Korean War, meaning that the sides technically remain at war. The United States, whose signature is needed on a peace treaty, has said it will not sign until the North scraps its nuclear weapons "in a verifiable fashion."

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