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Koreas' bid to reconnect rail, road links clouded by sanctions issue


SEOUL - The two Koreas on Wednesday launched a project to reconnect rail and road links severed since the 1950-53 Korean War, but actual construction cannot start while sanctions remain in place against North Korea, officials said.

The two sides agreed in October to work on reconnecting railways and roads as part of a thaw in relations that the United States fears will undermine efforts to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

“There’s a lot of things to do before we actually start construction,” South Korean Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee said before the ceremony in the city of Kaesong on the North Korean side of the border.

The materials and investment needed for construction to begin are banned under U.N. and U.S. sanctions imposed over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

Washington insists sanctions remain until the North gives up its nuclear weapons.

South Korean officials, politicians and members of families displaced by the war boarded a special train to the ceremony.

Shin Jang-chul, who drove the last freight train between the Koreas when they operated a joint factory park a decade ago, said he never thought he would return to the North.

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