The 38th parallel is vanishing - 17 September, 2002 - News

North and South Koreas are on their way to unification

This is really an astounding thing to happen, especially against the background of the events of June 29. On that day, a North Korean coast guard boat shot at a South Korean military ship, which was preventing North Korean fishermen from catching crabs. The South Korean ship sank.

The American administration became hysterical. It publicly cancelled a previously arranged visit of an American official to Pyongyang. Bush’s administration started to exacerbate the situation in the region of the so-called “axis of evil” that it concocted itself. Top American officials were as passionate about it as they are currently towards Iraq.

It seemed that the inter-Korean peace process was going down the drain. It seemd that a miracle was needed to save the process from sinking. A miracle happened! The newspaper Korea Herald reported that top military officials of both Koreas conducted negotiations and developed a detailed agreement. The document contains 41 paragraphs. These paragraphs provide safety measures for the workers that will participate in the historic mission of removing the 38th parallel. The parallel has seperated the Korean nation for many years after WWII.

The miracle happened due to two factors. First of all, it was made possible due to the restraint shown by Korean leaders after the incident at sea. The active work of Russian diplomacy also played a positive role. Russia was skillful enough to use the blockade that the USA set up against North Korea. The Russian foreign minister went to Seoul and Pyongyang a month after the conflict with the Korean ships.

Kim Jong-il traveled to Russia’s Far East in his famous train three weeks after that visit. On August 24, Kim had a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Three more days later (on August 28), a session of the committee for inter-Korean economic cooperation took place. The committee passed several agreements; the most important was about a railway connection between North and South Koreas.

Did the miracle happen due to Russia's participation? The answer to this question is definitely positive. The key issue of inter-Korean rapprochement at the moment is the perspective of the future connection between the Trans-Korean Railway and the Trans-Siberian Railway. Stable and safe railway communication between Asia and Europe and the Pacific and the Atlantic territories will serve the welfare of the two Koreas. This will certainly be beneficial to Russia and its Far Eastern region in terms of economic cooperation.

At the end of the day, the implementation of such a grand project will be extremely favorable to the economic interests of other countries in the region. First and foremost, this affects Japan. This country is already working on its plans to join the railway project. Japan is planning to build a tunnel under the sea: from its most southern island to the southern edge of the Korean peninsula. Needless to mention, it is a matter for the future, as the cost of such a tunnel is reportedly more that $77 billion.

Andrey Krushinsky PRAVDA.Ru Beijing

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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