Chinese and South Korean officials have agreed to review a railway construction project connecting Seoul and Sinuiju to China, the ROK’s Blue House announced on Wednesday.
Senior Secretary to the President for Public Communication Yoon Young-chan made the announcement following a meeting between President Moon Jae-in and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the sidelines of a trilateral meeting in Tokyo.
“Both… shared the view that the project constructing a railway connecting Seoul, Sinuiju, and China to support North Korean economic development can be reviewed and the research project between the South and China can be preceded with,” Yoon said.
The agreement, which followed a 45-minute meeting at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, appears to be linked to a clause in the Panmunjom Declaration signed by Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the third inter-Korean summit last month.
That agreement saw Seoul and Pyongyang commit to pushing forward with projects featured in the 2007 October 4 Declaration, with the goal of fostering “balanced economic growth and co-prosperity of the nation.”
The two Koreas also agreed to take “practical steps towards the connection and modernization of the railways and roads on the eastern transportation corridor as well as between Seoul and Sinuiju for their utilization.”
Previous NK Pro analysis suggested that international sanctions would prove an obstacle to any economic cooperation between the two Koreas.
Paragraph 7 of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2397, for example, prohibits member states from supplying transportation vehicles, including trains or their parts, to the North.
The ban would make it hard for Seoul and Pyongyang to make substantive progress in connecting and modernizing railways and roads.
But although paragraph 18 of UNSCR 2375 prohibits member states from operating all joint ventures or cooperative entities with the DPRK, it allows for “those that are non-commercial, public utility infrastructure projects not generating profit, have been approved by the Committee in advance on a case-by-case basis.”
Wednesday saw Li and Moon agree that the international community could consider easing sanctions in return for further steps by the North towards denuclearization.
Both said that “the international community, including the U.S., should actively engage in ensuring a bright future including guarantees for the regime and support for economic development.”
“North Korea has the clear intention of the complete denuclearization and it believes it is implementing what it ought to do,” Li was quoted as having said by Yoon. “[Pyongyang] is waiting for the corresponding feedback from the U.S.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: South Korean Blue House
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