North Korean railway officials are content with results of the latest meeting held by the Russia - North Korea Railway Commission.
The Commission was holding its session in Khabarovsk (Russia's Far East) from 30 September to 5 October. For about a week, Russian and North Korean railway officials were discussing various issues pertaining to restoration of the Trans-Korean Railroad, its connection to Russia's Trans Siberian Railroad and ways for expanding railway traffic volumes between the two countries.
"We are completely satisfied with the course and the results of the talks as well as with the agreements reached by the Russian and North Korean railway delegations," deputy head of the Chongjin Railway leading the North Korean delegation said on Saturday.
According to him, the Commission had effectively addressed such vital issues as improving operation between the Khasan and Tumangan railway stations and expanding general transit turnover of goods and passengers between Russia and North Korea.
The head of the North Korean delegation said that he was very optimistic about prospects of the 250-meter-wide railway corridor running along the 38-th parallel dividing North and South Korea. Construction of the corridor started on 18 September 2002.
"The most significant item on our agenda, however," he said "is the planned re-connection of the Russian and North Korean railway networks. Probably, further consideration of this vital issue will take place during a tripartite meeting of top railway officials of Russia, DPRK and the Republic of Korea scheduled to be held in Vladivostok next year." According to Viktor Popov, head of Russia's Far Eastern Railroad, the issues pertaining to modernization of the Trans Korean Railroad and its connection with the Trans Siberian Railroad are drawing keen interest not only from Asian business circles but also from businessmen of Central Europe. Once connected, these railroads will offer the shortest way for containers in transit on the Asia-Europe-Asia route. Freight trains can deliver the goods either way within 12 days. At the same time, containers shipped to Western Europe by sea from the South Korean port of Pusan via the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans take nearly a month to reach the port of destination.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969