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Koreans resume border link

01 Oct 2002

SEPTEMBER 18 saw a ceremony at Dorasan to mark the formal resumption of work on reconnecting the Gyeongi line across the Demilitarised Zone from Seoul to North Korea. Bilateral talks at the end of August were followed by the signing of a technical agreement on September 12 at Panmunjom between Lt-Gen Ri Chan-Bok of the North Korean army and Maj-Gen James N Soligan of the United Nations Command, to guarantee the safety of construction workers.

Agreement was reached two years ago to reinstate the 30 km between Munsan and Kaesong (RG 9.00 p513). Work on the 10·8 km section in South Korea was finished last December, and the aim is to complete the link by the end of this year.

Ceremonies were also held to start work on restoring the Dongae line across the border, as part of an east coast route from Pusan (RG 6.02 p284). On September 11 South Korea's Public Procurement Service announced that a consortium led by Hyundai Construction and Daewoo had been selected to undertake the Dongae line project. Including a new cross-border road link, this is valued at 72bn won.

North Korean President Kim Jong-Il held talks with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok on August 23 to discuss the revival of rail links between the two countries. Russia has offered US$3·3bn for the project, but is seeking guarantees on the level of landbridge traffic to be routed via the Trans-Siberian. Accompanying Putin to the talks, Minister of Railways Gennadi Fadeyev confirmed that RZD will push ahead with upgrading the line from Ussuryisk to the North Korean border at Khasan ahead of a formal agreement. Fadeyev also confirmed that the last 175 km section of the Trans-Siberian will be electrified by the end of this year.

CAPTION: North Korean troops marked the start of relaying the Gyeongi line at Kaesong on September 18 Photo: AP