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N.Korea Delays 1st Rail Cooperation Talks

Posted January. 22, 2008 07:17,   


North Korea has indefinitely postponed a meeting on inter-Korean railroad cooperation, which had been slated for Wednesday and Thursday in Pyongyang.

This has raised the possibility that other inter-Korean dialogue and activities will be delayed until the new South Korean administration of President-elect Lee Myung-bak takes office on Feb. 25.

The Unification Ministry in Seoul said Monday that Pyongyang requested a delay of the talks via an official at the truce village of Panmunjom. The official said the North needs more time to prepare for the meeting, given that it is the beginning of the year.

The communist regime agreed to hold the meeting last month during the first meeting of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Committee. Both sides were planning to discuss the scope and details of repairing the Gaesong-Shinuiju railroad and using it to send a joint cheering squad to attend the Beijing Summer Olympics.

Also likely to be delayed is an inter-Korean survey to develop the North Korean port of Haeju, which was planned for the end of the month.

“The North must be having difficulty setting up a timetable for inter-Korean projects this year, because the next South Korean government’s policy toward North Korea has not been clarified,” said Kim Yeon-cheol, professor at the Asiatic Research Center of Korea University.

But humanitarian aid workers, who have been banned from visiting the North since mid-December last year, are scheduled to visit Pyongyang from Wednesday, showing that inter-Korean dialogue has not been completely severed.