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North Korea, South Korea celebrate groundbreaking ceremony for railway project



South Korean officials participated in a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday to modernize North Korea's railways and roads to connect them with the South.

The event in the North Korean border town of Kaesong is one of several peace gestures between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in as they push for a stalemate in major nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

The ceremony, however, is largely symbolic as the project can not do so Make much progress without lifting US sanctions against North Korea. The two Koreas conducted a joint survey of the northern railway sections, which they wanted to connect weeks ago with the South.

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. During his three summits with Moon and a At a meeting with President Donald Trump in June, Kim vaguely signed statements promising a nuclear-free Korean peninsula without describing how and when this would happen. However, the nuclear follow-up talks between Washington and Pyongyang have been hampered for months by the sequence of Washington-wanted denuclearization and the lifting of international sanctions requested by Pyongyang.

The South Korean Ministry of Unification, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, said the government of Seoul It is planned to conduct further investigations on North Korean railways and roads before a detailed plan for the project is prepared.

"The actual construction will continue according to the progress of the denuclearization of the North and the state of sanctions against the North," the ministry said in a statement.

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. Although the North is taking concrete steps towards denuclearization and facilitating sanctions, some experts say North Korea is upgrading rail networks and trains creaking slowly on the first-ever built railways could take decades of massive investment.

Seoul claimed to have received a sanction waiver from the US Security Council to continue the ceremony on Wednesday, as South Korean transport vehicles and goods were used there. The joint survey of North Korean railways in November, which also required a UN permit, marked for the first time that a South Korean train was driving on North Korean railways.

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In December 2007, the Koreas began freight traffic between the South Korean Munsan Station in Paju and the North Panmun Station to support operations in a now closed park in Kaesong. The south used the trains to transport construction materials north, while clothes and shoes made in the factory park were sent south. The line was cut in November 2008 due to political tensions over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Kaesong Factory Park was closed in February 2016 by the former Conservative government of the South following a North Korean nuclear test and long-range missile launch.

19659005] The Associated Press has contributed to this report.


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