A ruling party lawmaker on Wednesday stressed the need to proactively push for the reconnection of inter-Korean railways and called for the lifting of sanctions against North Korea to expedite the project.
Rep. Song Young-gil of the Democratic Party made the remarks during a forum held in Seoul earlier in the day hosted by Hana Financial Investment Co.
"The inter-Korean rail project is not to give something to North Korea, but to get something from it," Song said in a thinly veiled dig at critics who have argued that such joint projects aim to offer unconditional aid to the communist country.
Reiterating that the construction of the inter-Korean railways and roads is aimed at expanding the scope of the South Korean economy, the lawmaker said the project "should be a stepping stone for the overall expansion of the inter-Korean infrastructure that moves beyond the confines of the Korean Peninsula, which is also key for President Moon Jae-in's version of Nordpolitik, or his drive to boost ties with Russia and neighboring countries.
During the third summit in September in Pyongyang, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to reconnect two sets of cross-border roads and railways. Then the two sides agreed last month to hold a groundbreaking ceremony in early December at the latest, though there have been no tangible moves toward this.
Noting that the North has adopted economic development-centered policy measures that are "positive," Song said Pyongyang's denuclearization pledge "deserves a small gift."
"North Korea is well aware that it should work with the United States to attain economic development ... and Pyongyang has said that it could achieve a 15 percent yearly growth should international sanctions be lifted," Song stated. (Yonhap)