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Koreas break ground on railways but nuke sanctions block project 

Seoul, December 26

The two Koreas on Wednesday launched a project to reconnect rail and road links severed since the 1950-53 Korean War, but actual construction cannot start while sanctions remain in place against North Korea, officials said.

The two sides agreed in October to work on reconnecting railways and roads as part of a thaw in relations that the United States fears will undermine efforts to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

“There’s a lot of things to do before we actually start construction,” South Korean Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee said before the ceremony in the city of Kaesong on the North Korean side of the border.

The materials and investment needed for construction to begin are banned under UN and US sanctions imposed over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes. Washington insists sanctions remain until the North gives up its nuclear weapons.

South Korean officials, politicians and members of families displaced by the war boarded a special train to the ceremony.  The North’s Vice Railroad Minister Kim Yun Hyok called for an “unwavering determination to stand against headwinds” that could threaten the project.

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