x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Koreas to restore regular cross-border traffic

Normal traffic flows will be restored between North and South Korea this week, after months of being restricted.

SEOUL // Regular traffic across the heavily fortified border dividing North and South Korea will be restored this week, officials in Seoul said today amid further signs of improved relations between the two nations. North Korea severely restricted traffic across its border in December in anger over the South Korean government's hard-line stance toward Pyongyang. The clampdown affected the flow of goods and personnel to and from a joint factory park in the northern city of Kaesong. However, after months of provocations that included nuclear and missile tests, Pyongyang has spent the past few weeks trying to reach out to Seoul and Washington. Beginning tomorrow, the border will open 23 times a day to traffic to and from Kaesong, up from the current six times, Seoul's Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung told reporters today. The number of people and vehicles allowed to cross the border at one time will no longer be restricted, he said. Kaesong is home to some 110 South Korean-run factories that employ about 40,000 North Korean workers. The project is the most prominent symbol of the inter-Korean co-operation that prospered under two liberal South Korean presidents following the Koreas' first-ever summit in 2000. The reconciliation process and most joint projects came to a halt after conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office early last year. North Korea protested Mr Lee's tough policies, such as linking aid to the impoverished neighbour to nuclear disarmament.

* AP