Koreas survey North's railways in hopes of joining networks

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with US President Donald Trump at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with US President Donald Trump at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore

With President Moon Jae-in having wrapped up the G-20 summit following a meeting with US President Donald Trump, hopes are high that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's visit to Seoul will materialize before the end of the year.

As a gesture towards reconciliation, the two Koreas reconnected the western line in 2007 and limited numbers of freight trains transported materials and goods to and from the Seoul-invested Kaesong industrial zone in the North for about a year.

Trump and Xi agreed that "great progress has been made with respect to North Korea", the White House statement added.

"The inter-Korean railway connection project is meant to overcome division and open a new future of the Korean Peninsula", Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said at a ceremony at Dorasan Station near the border, according to pool reports. "The two leaders agreed Chairman Kim Jong Un's visit to Seoul would provide additional momentum to their joint efforts to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula", Moon's chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan said.

A North Korean soldier reportedly defected to South Korea at around 7:56 a.m. local time on Saturday.

But the project was given a green light recently as the United States expressed strong support for the survey and the U.N. Security Council granted a sanctions exemption.

According to plans outlined by Cho's ministry, Korean officials will begin by surveying a 400-kilometre (248-mile) railroad section between Kaesong and Sinuiju that cuts through the North's central region and northeastern coast.

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At Panmun Station across the border, a North Korean engine took over to take them further north.

Pence has also said it was essential that global sanctions pressure be maintained on North Korea until its complete denuclearisation was achieved.

The President's comments came hours after Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a working meeting in Argentina, discussing several issues that included a temporary freeze on higher tariffs, fentanyl reclassification as a controlled substance, and the North Korea peninsula.

The six-carriage train is transporting 28 South Koreans including railway engineers and other personnel, and carrying 55 tonnes of fuel and an electricity generator.

North Korea was angered by Washington's refusal to ease sanctions and warned it could resume its nuclear programme.

For the first time since the recent elimination of border guards on the divided peninsula, a North Korean soldier has fled to the south.

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