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5th Working-level Contact for Connection of Inter-Korean Rails, Roads


The Fifth Working-level Contact for the Connection of Railroads and Roads between South and North Korea

1. Summary

a) The fifth working-level contact for the connection of railroads and roads between South and North Korea was held in Gaeseong June 7-9, 2003.

Participants from the two sides discussed practical matters concerning the work to connect railroads and roads including holding an event to mark the actual linking of rails on the Seoul-Sinuiju Line and the Donghae Line, which was agreed in the fifth Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee on May 23.

b) The South Korean delegation commuted to Gaeseong from Seoul for the contact via the Seoul-Sinuiju road. It departed Seoul aboard a chartered bus for Gaeseong, entering the North across the Military Demarcation Line at around 9 a.m. and returning home at around 5 p.m. every day during the contact.

2. Major Agreed Points

(1) The Inter-Korean Railroads Connection.

a) The event was agreed in the fifth inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee. At the fifth contact, the two sides agreed to jointly hold two simultaneous ceremonies on June 14 linking the inter-Korean rail lines at two points (east coast and west coast, respectively) near the Military Demarcation Line that runs through the middle of the DMZ.

b) The agreement on the event symbolized a step forward to the day of the railroads and roads between the two Koreas are "open to traffic".

The linking does not mean actual operations of the trains. However, it highlights the commitment of both sides to complete the connection work at an early date.

(2) Provision of Materials and Equipment

a) The two sides discussed items and quantities of the materials and equipment the South should provide the North and agreed to fix the matter through consultations after the exchange of relevant documents.

In the second working-level consultation meeting on September 17, 2002, the two sides adopted an "agreement on the provision of materials and equipment." The first batch was delivered October 19. During the latest contact, discussion was made on the quantity of oil and other items, as well as on the provision of the second batch.

* For smooth implementation of the connection work, it appears inevitable that the South should provide an additional amount of materials and equipment needed, given the North's deem economic situation.

(3) Technical Support for Installation of Equipment and Normal Operations

a) For installation of certain equipment provided to the North and their proper operation, including reinforced concrete mixers and crushers (for gravel making), it is necessary for the technical personnel from the South to visit the North and stay there for instructional purposes.

The North side agreed to accommodate the South Korean technical personnel between mid-June and the end of July for technical advice and guaranteed their convenience of stay.

* The Southern personnel visited the Northern sites, where the materials and equipment from the South were being used, and surveyed the status of the materials and equipment. The visit took place on March 20-22, 2003, for the Seoul-Sinuiju Line, on March 24-26 for the Donghae Line, respectively.

b) The on-site technical guidance was helpful not only for a proper operation of the materials and equipment provided to the North, but also for confirmation of the progress of work. This will also contribute to mutual trust as the work moved forward.

(4) Schedule for the Next Contact

a) The two sides agreed to hold the third working-level consultation meeting on connecting railroads and roads on July 2-4 in Munsan (north of Seoul).

3. Significance

a) For a stable management of inter-Korean relations, it is important that the exchange and cooperative projects and dialogue between the two sides continue on a regular basis.

b) Each side began a new system of "commute to and from" the venue, a gesture showing that the two Koreas are coming closer toward each other and their meetings are growing more productive.