PANMUNJOM, Korea, South and North Korea agreed Tuesday to conduct a joint study on modernizing the railways that run through their borders "at an early date."
The joint study will start first on the northern section of the Seoul-Sinuiju western railways from July 24 and then on the railways running along the eastern region of the Korean Peninsula, according to the unification ministry.
The agreements were reached after the two Koreas held working-level talks on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom to discuss railway cooperation in a follow-up on the summit between their leaders in April.
"South and North Korea agreed to conduct joint research on the northern section of railways at an early date as part of efforts to modernize the railways in the eastern region and the Seoul-Sinuiju railways," the ministry said.
Subject to the study are the Mount Kumgang-Tumen River line in the eastern region and the Kaesong-Sinuiju line in the western area. The railways in the North are known to be decrepit and to require repairs to be connected to those in the South.
The talks on railway cooperation were the latest in a series of meetings to discuss cross-border exchanges and cooperation in line with the April 27 summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
In a high-level officials' meeting on June 1, the two Koreas agreed to discuss cooperation on connecting railways and roads as well as in other areas such as forestry and humanitarian issues.
Last week, they agreed to hold reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War in August, the first event of its kind since October 2015. They also plan to field joint teams for some sports during the upcoming Asian Games.
They are set to hold inter-Korean talks to boost cooperation on roads on Thursday and a separate meeting to discuss issues related to forestry on July 4.
In Tuesday's talks, the two Koreas agreed to resolve any practical problems that could arise in the process of carrying out their agreements on railway cooperation through the communication channels at Panmunjom.
They also promised to "faithfully" implement what was agreed upon and do their best to make such joint efforts contribute to inter-Korean relations.
To seek full-blown economic cooperation, however, sanctions imposed on the North should be lifted, which will take time as it will likely go in tandem with progress on its promised denuclearization.
The Seoul government recognizes the limits.
"There could be limits due to sanctions, but we still have many things to discuss and study that could be pursued after the sanctions are lifted," said Vice Transport Minister Kim Jeong-ryeol, who led South Korea's delegation to the talks, before leaving for the talks.
Source: Yonhap News Agency