South and North Korea on Thursday agreed to form joint study group on cross-border road connection in the working-level talks on cooperation to connect roads across the border and modernize roads in the North.
A three-person South Korean delegation led by Vice Transport Minister Kim Jeong-ryeol met with their North Korean counterparts led by Pak Ho-yong, vice minister for land and environmental protection, at the northern side of the truce village of Panmunjeom.
The meeting came as a follow-up to the summit agreement between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on April 27 to expand inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation.
The two sides discussed the construction of a highway linking the North’s western border city of Kaesong to Munsan, Gyeonggi Province, just south of the inter-Korean border.
Building the 19-kilometer segment would allow vehicles to drive between Seoul and Pyongyang via a highway.
The Koreas had pushed for the project in 2015, but it was stalled as inter-Korean relations soured with the North’s fourth nuclear test in January 2016.
The South will propose the Musan-Kaesong highway construction, Vice Minister Kim told reporters before crossing the border Thursday morning, declining to go into further detail.
“It is inappropriate to talk about the details of the agenda,” he said.
“But there will definitely be discussions on projects agreed to 10 years ago.”
Due to international sanctions that ban economic cooperation with the North, however, some observers have said the meeting was likely to focus on organizing a joint research team and setting a schedule for them to study the North’s road conditions.
During a meeting on linking and modernizing cross-border railways Tuesday, the two Koreas agreed to conduct a joint study on the northern section of the Seoul-Sinuiju western railways from July 24 and then on the railroads running along the eastern region of the Korean Peninsula.
The Koreas agreed in a meeting of high-level officials on June 1 to discuss cooperation on connecting railways and roads as well as in other areas such as forestry and humanitarian issues.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org