South Korea said today that it is negotiating with the United States. and other countries seeking a temporary exemption from the sanctions imposed on North Korea for its weapons program to develop a joint railway project.
"With regard to the joint railway study, consultations are under way with the United States, the United Nations and other relevant countries," a member of the South Korean Ministry of Unification told the local Yonhap news agency about the project, which has encountered obstacles in the last months.
The official, who said on condition of anonymity, said the road map of the studies "will be determined accordingly."
The two Koreas agreed to start work between the end of November and the beginning of December to modernize and eventually connect their trains and roads, in compliance with the agreements reached at the inter-Korean summits in April and September.
The project has been delayed for months, after the United Nations Command, led by the US, blocked access to the necessary materials for a field study in the North, alleging procedural problems.
The blockade is interpreted by some as a sign of Washington's discontent over a possible violation of the sanctions imposed on the North Korean regime and the acceleration of inter-Korean cooperation at a time when negotiations over the denuclearization of the North are apparently stalled.
The two Koreas had planned to celebrate the start of work as soon as this month with a ceremony that Seoul aims to officiate before the end of the year.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed in their 2018 meetings to intensify cooperation and cross-border exchanges.
Both leaders also reaffirmed the goal of achieving a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons, a compromise for which there is still no road map, which has generated a cooling in the Pyonyang-Washington dialogue for their differences in the way to proceed with denuclearization.