North and South Korea Finally Succeed in Historic Rail Linkage
May 17 (EIRNS) At midday today, Korean time, the "Iron-Silk Railroad" opened, with two trains, one from North Korea and one from South Korea, crossing the heavily fortified Military Demarcation Line (MDL) between the two sides, for the first time since January 1951.
The "Iron-Silk Road" policy was initiated at the historic summit in 2000 between then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The rail connections, each just over 25 km long, were completed in 2003, one on the east and one on the west coast of the Korean peninsula, but political complications have since prevented any of the three or four scheduled test runs - the last in May 2006 - from taking place.
This time, the breakthrough was created, despite various complications which have prevented the Feb. 13 Six-Party agreed accords on the North Korean nuclear problem from being fulfilled so far. The development owes much to the participation of China and Russia in the Six Party accords, and to a reasonable approach from U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill. A North Korean train carried 100 South Koreans and 50 North Koreans on the eastern rail line to the South, and returned, and a South Korean train carrying the same number traveled North and returned on the western line, Yonhap news service reported.
The office of South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun issued a statement today saying: "Today is a very meaningful day. The opening of the inter-Korean railways will lead to the opening of peace and economic unity on the Korean Peninsula. From now on, the government will gradually develop inter-Korean relations with patience."
The event also presages the near-term completion of the full length of the Eurasian Landbridge, "from Busan to Rotterdam."