"At the moment, we are determined to connect the railways of North and South Korea, this is a fundamentally important project and it is necessary to provide the best possible conditions for this project to be finally implemented," Kim told the panel session at EEF on Tuesday.
North Korean Railways Ministry's Department of the External Affairs Deputy Director Kim Chang Sik noted that North Korea would develop the project on connecting the railways jointly with Russia and South Korea, noting that the countries of the Korean peninsula should become "owners" of the project.
"In the future, we will develop this project on the basis of negotiations between Russia and North Korea, North and South Korea so that the owners of this project are the countries of the Korean Peninsula," the official said.
According to the joint declaration signed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Pyongyang and Seoul agreed to adopt practical measures to connect railways on the peninsula. As the first step of this process, the countries will connect and modernize railways and roads on the eastern transportation corridor, as well as between Seoul and North Korea’s city of Sinuiju.
This modernization initiative may potentially connect South Korea's railway systems to those in Russian, thereby opening new prospects for the delivery of goods via the Trans-Siberian railway. In particular, Seoul may take part in the Khasan–Rajin railway project, which was agreed upon in 2001 by then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian side has repeatedly invited South Korean companies to take part in the project, but the negotiations stalled due to the heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The fourth EEF is now underway on the island of Russky in Vladivostok. The main event of the forum will be the plenary session "The Russian Far East: Creating a New Reality" with Russian President Vladimir Putin's participation.