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Roh to take the west highway to Pyongyang meet

North rules out railway route, but other issues are settled smoothly  PLAY AUDIO

Aug 15,2007
Residents brave a flooded street in Pyongyang Saturday. North Korea is seeking international aid after floods left hundreds of people dead or missing and washed away many buildings, a UN aid agency spokesman said yesterday. [REUTERS]
President Roh Moo-hyun will make the inter-Korean summit a road trip.
Roh will travel overland to Pyongyang for the Aug. 28 to 30 meeting, officials said yesterday, announcing the outcome of the first summit preparatory meeting between the two Koreas held at the border city of Kaesong.
Taking the highway along the west coast, Roh and first lady Kwon Yang-suk will travel by private limousine with an entourage of about 150 officials and business leaders. They will arrive in Pyongyang by way of Kaesong.
“The two governments agreed that the South’s delegation will use the road along the Gyeongui line when they travel north,” said Deputy Unification Minister Lee Kwan-se, the head of the South’s working-level negotiating team. The Gyeongui line is the railway linking Seoul and Shinuiju, near the Chinese border.
The South had earlier suggested using the recently reconnected railway to cross the border, but the North balked at the suggestion.
Lee said without elaborating that North Korean officials explained that “overall circumstances did not allow” them to use the railway.
The reason for their reluctance to trust the train may lie with the torrential rains that spawned heavy flooding in North Korea that could have damaged the tracks.
A South Korean official said the rains have yet to cause any trouble with the highways, because the road that runs adjacent to the Gyeongui line is built on high ground. The northerners said the roads are in good shape.
For the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, former president Kim Dae-jung flew to Pyongyang to be greeted by Kim Jong-il at the Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang.
Yesterday’s meeting also came up with a long list of agreements on how the two parties should prepare for the upcoming summit.
South Korea will send 202 delegates to the summit, only slightly more than the 182-member delegation of seven years ago, although the South had hoped to bring more guests. From the delegation, 50 will be reporters.
The South will dispatch 30 officials to the North a week before the summit to check on the itinerary. The agenda will be based on the joint statement that Kim Man-bok, the South Korean spymaster, and Kim Yang-gon, the North’s chief propagandist, signed agreeing to the summit. The statement said that the goals of the summit are peace, prosperity and reunification.


By Lee Min-a Staff Writer/ Pool reports



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