Two Koreas agree to push ahead with road, rail links despite sanctions

South Korea'a military is reconsidering defense options to guard against North Korea artillery

France does not have any diplomatic relations with North Korea, and is one of the only two European Union countries to have cut ties with the state over its nuclear programme and human rights record.

"The South and North reached the agreement after sincerely discussing action plans to develop inter-Korean relations to a new, higher stage", said a joint statement released by the South's Unification Ministry.

Talks are planned this month and next about increasing military engagement to reduce the threat of conventional warfare, about a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics, and about stepping up contacts between families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, right, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Ri Son Gwon before their meeting at the southern side of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. Many outsiders believe that USA -led efforts to rid North Korea of its nuclear-tipped missiles are lagging significantly behind the Koreas' efforts to move past decades of bitter rivalry.

He said the ministry would work harder to assure that North Korea-born defectors can report on North Korea issues without restrictions.

The meeting was meant to hammer out agreements in the Pyongyang Declaration, signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on September 19 during their third summit.

At a summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore Kim declared his backing for denuclearisation of the peninsula, but no details were agreed and Washington and Pyongyang have subsequently sparred over what that means and how it will be achieved.

Moon's government last week walked back a proposal to lift some of its unilateral sanctions against North Korea following Trump's blunt retort that Seoul could "do nothing" without Washington's approval.

President Moon also said Kim showed his firm willingness to scrap his nuclear weapons and join hands with the South and other countries for the North's economic growth.

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North Korea, South Korea and the US-led United Nations Command began talks Tuesday (Oct 16) on demilitarising a section of the heavily fortified border dividing the peninsula, as a diplomatic thaw gathers pace.

Dr Kang's remarks amounted to a rare confirmation of discord between South Korea and the United States, though the allies have said they remain in lockstep on North Korea.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent visit to Pyongyang, however, raised hopes for Washington and Pyongyang to restart their dialogue in a constructive way.

Mr Moon on Monday said that world powers needed to reassure Mr Kim that he had taken the right decision to commit to denuclearisation.

In August, a plan for an inspection by the two Koreas for the rail project was scrapped after the United Nations Command (UNC), which overlaps with U.S. forces in the South and oversees affairs in the DMZ, rejected the passage of a test train carrying fuel, military sources said.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon has expressed regret over a decision to block a North Korean defector-turned reporter from covering high-level talks between the Koreas at a border village.

"I'm devastated", Mr Kim Myong-sung of the Chosun Ilbo, a conservative South Korean newspaper, told Reuters, adding that he had been told of the decision just before he was due to depart for the DMZ.

Battulga also congratulated Kim on the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Ulaanbaatar and expressed his hope to receive the North Korean leader in Mongolia.

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