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Koreas fail to agree on cross-border railway

South Korea and North Korea fail to agree to hold test runs of a cross-border train Monday. If the plan was approved, it would have been a step in a reconciliation between the two countries.
/ Source: The Associated Press

South Korea on Tuesday failed to convince North Korea to hold test runs of cross-border railways after the communist country abruptly canceled such plans last month.

The trials would have been the first time trains crossed the frontier in more than half a century, and were a high-profile part of reconciliation efforts between the Cold War rivals.

However, the North called off the tests just a day ahead of the day the historic event was scheduled, drawing strong protest from the South.

A joint statement adopted Tuesday at the end of the inter-Korean economic talks did not contain plans for test runs of trains, but conditioned South Korea’s provision of raw materials to the North on a revival of the tests.

Seoul will start providing raw materials to help Pyongyang produce clothes, shoes and soap as part of an agreement reached last year “when right conditions are created,” said the statement adopted at the South’s southern Jeju island.

The South, in return, would get rights to invest in North Korean mining operations.