23 Nov 2018 14:32

RZD hopes sanctions against Trans-Korean railroad project to be lifted

MOSCOW. Nov 23 (Interfax) - Russian Railways (RZD) hopes that sanctions on the Trans-Korean Railway project are lifted, leading to direct rail traffic to and from South Korea.

"We are closely monitoring this process. We have learned that the Korean government asked the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea at the beginning of this week to exclude the Trans-Korean Railway project from the [package of] sanctions," the deputy head of RZD's international cooperation department, Alexei Astafyev, said at the Korea-Russia conference on Friday.

"In our opinion, the project is likely to acquire such immunity. Hopefully, the joint work will help us reach our strategic objective of opening direct rail traffic between Russia and the Republic of Korea," he said.

RZD has helped renovate rail infrastructure between the Russian town of Khasan and the North Korean port of Rajin, Astafyev said. "Traffic began after construction ended in 2014, and nearly 5 million tonnes [of cargo had been transported] by last year. Due to well-known circumstances, traffic has been put on hold, and the project is waiting to be reset," he said.

"We'd like to ask our South Korean partners to think about moving on [with the project] and beginning the next stage of the modernization of the entire North Korean rail line and its connection to South Korea, despite the restrictive measures," Astafyev said.

The news agency Yonhap reported on Thursday that South Korea was holding consultations with the United States, the UN, and other parties on temporarily lifting some restrictive measures against North Korea so that the joint rail project could continue.