Push in Assembly for inter-Korean committee

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Push in Assembly for inter-Korean committee

The ruling party said on Tuesday that it would push to set up a special legislative committee on inter-Korean ties to support economic cooperation between the two countries.

Recent rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula is raising the prospect that the Koreas will promote economic cooperation if there is progress on the North’s denuclearization.

“The core of inter-Korean economic cooperation is to establish transportation infrastructure,” Hong Young-pyo, the Democratic Party’s floor leader, told a forum. “There should at least be tangible achievements in such areas as relinking railways and roads and connecting natural gas pipelines during President Moon Jae-in’s term.”

Moon, whose term expires in 2022, has unveiled an initiative aimed at developing broad inter-Korean economic belts called the New Economic Map. His government is also exploring ways to boost economic cooperation with Russia and other Northeast Asian nations under his so-called New Northern Policy.

“To make inter-Korean economic cooperation gain traction, it is important to develop transportation in North Korea and link the transportation services of the two Koreas,” Transportation Minister Kim Hyun-mee said.

South Korea recently joined an intergovernmental organization on rail transportation between Europe and Asia. North Korea did not oppose the South’s full membership amid thaws in bilateral ties. The move could boost South Korea’s ambitious project to link the Trans-Siberian Railway with an inter-Korean rail line.

Inter-Korean ties have markedly improved after summits between Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in April and May. The two leaders agreed to explore ways to promote economic cooperation, but the full-fledged start of inter-Korean economic projects will be possible only after North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons program.

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