UPDATE : 2018.9.25 TUE 18:42
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Koreas set to hold talks on cooperating to connect cross-border roads

The two Koreas are set to hold working-level talks Thursday to discuss cooperation on connecting roads over the border amid a thaw in inter-Korean relations.

The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on the northern side of the truce village of Panmunjom, according to the ministry. Vice Transport Minister Kim Jeong-ryeol leads South Korea's delegation, and his North Korean counterpart is Pak Ho-yong, vice minister for land and environmental protection.

They are expected to discuss ways to modernize and link cross-border roads as a follow-up to the agreement their leaders reached in a summit on April 27 to expand inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation in diverse areas.

In particular, constructing roads between the North's western border city of Kaesong and Munsan, just south of the inter-Korean border, could also be brought up for discussion. The 19-kilometer route, if completed, would allow vehicles to drive from Seoul all the way to Pyongyang.

The two Koreas pursued the road construction of the section in 2015, but it has been mothballed since early 2016, when the North conducted its fourth nuclear blast test.

Asked whether the Munsan-Kaesong road construction will be on the table, Kim, South Korea's chief delegate, said yes but declined to go into details.

"We will approach the talks earnestly and sincerely," he told reporters before leaving for the meeting. "We will come back with good results."

Infrastructure is expected to play an important role in boosting inter-Korean exchanges going forward. Roads and railways in North Korea are said to be decrepit and require lots of repair work.

Given international sanctions that ban economic cooperation with the North, however, observers said there could be limits to make headway in Thursday's talks, expecting the two sides could agree to conduct a joint study on relevant matters for now.

On Tuesday, the two Koreas held talks to discuss railway-related cooperation and agreed to conduct a joint study on modernizing the northern sections of railways in eastern and western areas of the Korean Peninsula. (yonhap)

Hillary Kang  edt@koreapost.com

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