North seeks 'substantive outcome' in economic cooperation talks with South

The North Korea issue returned after it emerged at the weekend Kim Jong-Un's regime might test another missile that could reach the US west coast

The two Koreas will also conduct a joint field inspection for the envisioned connections before the ceremony, a joint statement released by the ministry said, following the day's high-level talks in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas.

The two Koreas agreed this week to begin reconnecting rail and road links, in spite of US concerns that a rapid thaw in relations could undermine efforts to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

However, South Korea's enthusiasm for engagement with its rival appears to have created discomfort with ally United States amid growing concerns that the North is lagging behind its supposed promise to denuclearize.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said the discussions will include setting up a joint survey of a North Korean railroad section the Koreas plan to connect with the South.

Speaking before Monday's meeting, Cho said he and Ri would work to finalise the schedule for follow-on talks to last month's summit, including a joint study for the rail and road initiative.

Washington has said it will keep sanctions on North Korea until the regime abandons its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

They will also separately discuss a planned joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics and a show by North Korean performers in Seoul, the statement said.

The commentary made clear that sanctions relief would have to come for further action by North Korea on concessions related to denuclearization, including any potential action at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, which was hinted at in the September 19 inter-Korean declaration.




Monday's talks marked the second meeting between South Korean unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon and his North Korean counterpart Ri Son Gwon since President Moon Jae-in met with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang last month.

In a third meeting this year, senior officials from North and South Korea have agreed to bolster military, sporting and diplomatic ties in talks aimed at resolving ongoing denuclearization issues.

In the audit, the South Korean ambassador to the USA admitted that he had received a complaint from Washington that Seoul was "moving too quickly" in rapprochement with the North, which can not be forced to give up its nuclear weapons if sanctions are undermined.

A military deal between the two Koreas, endorsed by Moon and Kim at their third summit, has provoked "discontent" from USA secretary of state Mike Pompeo, South Korea's foreign minister said last week.

The decision to exclude the reporter from the conservative Chosun Ilbo on Monday drew an angry reaction from other South Korean journalists.

Regarding his meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Thursday evening (KST), Moon told the French newspaper he would deliver an official invitation from Kim for the Pope to visit North Korea.

They began demining in several small areas this month and will build roads to facilitate a pilot project slated for April to excavate remains of soldiers missing from the 1950-53 Korean War.

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