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Peace Dividends: Koreas Resume Economic Cooperation

© REUTERS / The Presidential Blue House South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leave after their summit at the truce village of Panmunjom, North Korea, in this handout picture provided by the Presidential Blue House on May 26, 2018. Picture taken on May 26, 2018
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leave after their summit at the truce village of Panmunjom, North Korea, in this handout picture provided by the Presidential Blue House on May 26, 2018. Picture taken on May 26, 2018 - Sputnik International
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Relations between Pyongyang and Seoul have seen an unprecedented warming in recent months following North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's back to back summits with South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump.

Seoul is in the process of resuming a number of economic projects with Pyongyang, South Korea's Unification Ministry has said.

Senior officials from the two countries plan to hold talks this week and next, on the restoration of rail and road links, as well as cooperation in forestry. The transport-related meetings will be held on June 26 and 28 in the Demilitarized Zone, with the forestry cooperation discussions set for July 4 at an undisclosed location.

"Through sectoral meetings on cooperation in the field of rail, road transport and forestry, we will build the foundation for the long-term development of relations between the South and the North, for the sake of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and a sincere discussion of the directions in implementing the Panmunjom Declaration," the ministry's statement said.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un look at each others before signing documents that acknowledge the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018 - Sputnik International
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In late April, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in the Demilitarized Zone for a historic summit. The summit produced a joint declaration committing Pyongyang and Seoul to seek the full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the improvement of relations, efforts to achieve co-prosperity and eventual peaceful reunification. The leaders had met again in late May to discuss ways to salvage Kim's expected meeting with US President Donald Trump, which went ahead in Singapore on June 12.

The warming ties prompted regional actors including Russia, China and Japan to dust off plans for economic cooperation to the benefit of both Koreas. Earlier this month, Russian gas giant Gazprom announced that it had returned to the idea of building a gas pipeline to South Korea via the DPRK, which would supply the countries with about 20 billion cubic meters of gas per year. President Moon mentioned a total of nine possible "bridges" of economic cooperation with Moscow last year, many of them contingent on a stable political and military situation on the peninsula. The three countries have also discussed a $20-$30 billion electricity grid project.

Earlier this month, the Japanese media reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was looking forward to possibly meeting with Kim Jong-un on the sidelines of a summit in Vladivostok in September. Meanwhile, Chinese economic analysts have recently explained to Sputnik the prospects of including North Korea in China's Belt and Road initiative, which they believe would help rebuild North Korea's economy and promote regional economic integration.

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