Koreas to hold railway talks

South and North Korean officials will meet this week to discuss their planned reopening of rail links that have been severed for a half-century, the Unification Ministry said Wednesday.

Reconnecting the railways is a key symbol of the detente launched between the two Koreas in 2000 when former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung met in the North Korean capital with the North's leader, Kim Jong Il.

The railways, one of them running on the western part of the peninsula and the other on the eastern part, have been all but restored after several years of work. But the North has delayed their formal opening without a clear reason amid tension over its nuclear program.

This week's working-level meeting, scheduled for Thursday and Friday in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, comes ahead of a planned trip by the former South Korean president to the North in June. He hopes to use one of the reopened railways for the visit.

"Issues related to holding test-runs and opening ceremonies for the railways will be discussed," the ministry said in a statement.

The landmark summit in 2000 spurred a series of exchanges between the two former battlefield foes.

Inter-Korean rail and road links had been severed for more than half a century since the Korean Peninsula was divided into the Soviet-controlled North and the U.S.-controlled South after Korea's liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule, reports the AP.


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