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Sea border issues slow progress at Korean military talks on cross-border rail test

Sea border issues slow progress at Korean military talks on cross-border rail test

North and South Korea were set to enter a second day of high-level military talks Wednesday to work out security arrangements for test runs of trains across their heavily armed border, after making little progress a day earlier.
The two Koreas agreed during economic talks last month to conduct the test runs on May 17 on rebuilt rail tracks across their border, but the tests cannot occur unless North Korea's military agrees to security arrangements.
If the rail tests go forward, it would be the first time trains would cross the border in more than a half century.
Last year, North Korea called off a planned test run at the last minute after South Korea rebuffed its demand for their contended sea border to be redrawn.
In Tuesday's talks at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea stressed the need for security arrangements for the rail test, but North Korea instead made another proposal, Col. Moon Sung-mook said. He did not elaborate on the proposal, but pool reports said the North wanted to broaden the discussions to security guarantees for all joint Korean cooperation projects _ a step likely to prevent agreement on arrangements for the test runs scheduled next week.
North Korea also raised other unrelated issues, including its western sea border with South Korea, casting a shadow over plans for the test runs.
The North's chief delegate, Lt. Gen. Kim Yong Chol, called for joint fishing zones along the maritime border and ways to avoid accidental naval clashes there, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported.
KCNA mentioned nothing about security arrangements for the train test runs.
North Korea doesn't recognize the current sea border demarcated by the United Nations at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, and has long claimed it should be further south.
The waters around the border are rich fishing grounds and boats from the two Koreas often jostle for position during the May-June crab-catching season. In 1999 and 2002, their navies skirmished, killing several sailors and sinking six ships.
This week's talks, which end Thursday, are the first military contacts between the two sides in a year. The two Koreas remain technically at war because the Korean War ended in a cease-fire that has never been replaced with a peace treaty.


Updated : 2021-10-19 17:01 GMT+08:00