- The Washington Times - Friday, June 4, 2004

From combined dispatches

SEOUL — South and North Korean officials announced today that they have reached an agreement to open cross-border roads and make test runs on two railways across their heavily fortified frontier in October.

Under the accord, which came after a meeting of economic officials in the North Korean capital, the two sides will open two roads — one across the western part of the inter-Korean border and the other in the east.

They also will test-run two railways running alongside the two roads, a media pool report from Pyongyang said.

The two sides also agreed to set up, by the end of the month, a joint agency to run an industrial park being built in North Korea’s Kaesong city near the border and appoint a South Korean to oversee it.

The sprawling park, mainly housing hundreds of South Korean garment and other labor-intensive plants, will be reached by the western cross-border transport links.

Electricity for the complex will come from the South after the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. finishes building the necessary power lines by late September.

South and North Korean officials at the Pyongyang meeting also said they needed to speed up work on a demonstration complex in the park to ensure that South Korean firms move in and begin production, officials from Seoul said.

South Korean officials also said they agreed to give 400,000 tons of rice aid to the North this year.

The breakthrough is expected to expand cooperation and contribute to stability on the peninsula, Yonhap news agency said.

The agreement at the Pyongyang economic talks came after a breakthrough yesterday in separate military talks in a South Korean resort, where the two sides agreed to ease tension along the world’s last Cold War frontier.

General-level officers of the Koreas agreed to set up a hot line and to avoid accidental armed clashes in the disputed western sea border.

In a symbolic move, the two sides also agreed to phase out broadcasts and propaganda signs along the historically tense border.

The war of words along the no man’s land separating North and South Korea dates to the 1950-53 Korean War that devastated the peninsula and left tens of thousands of troops arrayed along the frontier.

The South uses towering electronic billboards, reminiscent of the “Hollywood” sign overlooking Los Angeles, to beam weather reports, world news and salutations to its communist neighbor. The North rejoins with signboards of its own to relay messages such as “Let’s Establish a Confederate Nation.”

From strategically placed loudspeakers, both Koreas blare music that reverberates across the 21/2-mile demilitarized zone, a Cold War vestige strewn with mine fields, barbed wire and tank traps.

Accord also was reached on measures to prevent naval clashes in coastal waters, partly by establishing a telephone hot line and adopting a standard radio frequency and signaling system to improve communication.

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