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    PYONGYANG SEEKING TO DERAIL TRANSPORTATION DEAL BETWEEN TWO KOREAS, RUSSIA

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    TOKYO/MOSCOW, May 1 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea has turned down South Korea's proposal that it declassify information about the state of its railroads to enable the resumption of a project to link the transportation systems of the two Koreans to Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway.

    The Seoul-based news agency Yonhap reported this on Saturday, summing up three-day Moscow talks on the rail link project between Korean and Russian experts, diplomats, and financiers.

    The North Korean delegation refused to conduct test transportation of containers along a rail route from the south of the Korean Peninsula to Russia, the agency reports. So, the only real result of the talks was that the sides agreed to carry on negotiating.

    The three-way meeting was held behind closed doors April 28 through 30. The venue was a Moscow office of the Russian Railways government-owned corporation.

    According to the company's press service, the talks proceeded in a businesslike and constructive atmosphere, and dealt with specific issues relating to the implementation of the project, expected "to promote the development of trade and economic relations between countries of Northeast Asia and Europe as well as the growth of freight traffic on the railroads of the two Koreas and Russia." "The sides assessed the meeting as useful, one that had paved the way for further implementation of the project, and spoke in favor of holding a second three-way meeting," Russian Railways Co. spokespeople report. The date and venue for this meeting will be set later on.

    A ceremony was held in June 2003 to make a symbolic link between Korean railroads in the Demilitarized Zone, lying between the North and the South. Railroads were linked in two 25-meter-long sections in the Demilitarized Zone's east and west.

    The next step shall be to lay new tacks or renew old ones at some points beyond the Demilitarized Zone so that South Korea's transportation network could get an outlet to the Trans-Siberian Railway and, by extension, to Europe.

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