Two Koreas to break ground for road, railway connection in Nov.-Dec

The Latest: Koreas to break ground on inter-Korean railroad

North And South Korea Agree To Reconnect Roads, Rails

But there has since been a surprising peace initiative, with three inter-Korean summits and a June meeting in Singapore between Trump and Kim.

The thaw in ties between the neighbors has sparked USA concerns that it may be outpacing negotiations to dismantle the North's nuclear and missile programs.

Macron also ruled out the symbolic gesture of re-establishing a French embassy in North Korea. And, despite the fanfare for the proposed railway and road projects, the Koreas can not move much further along without the lifting of global sanctions against North Korea, which isn't likely to come before it takes firmer steps toward relinquishing its nuclear weapons and missiles.

Lim Eul-chul, an expert on the North Korean economy at South Korea's Kyungnam University, said the tight timeline for the groundbreaking ceremony reflects Pyongyang's determination to make rapid progress on talks over denuclearization.

They also agreed to discuss late this month a plan to pursue a bid to co-host the 2032 Olympic Games, and to explore in November ways to restart webcam reunions and video exchanges for families separated by the Korean War.

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South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said the discussions will include setting up a joint survey of a North Korean railroad section the Koreas plan to connect with the South. His North Korean counterpart, Ri Son Gwon, who heads an agency dealing with inter-Korean affairs, said "no group and no force will be able to prevent the path toward peace, prosperity and our nation's unification".

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Monday (Oct 15) that world powers needed to reassure North Korea's Kim Jong Un that he had taken the right decision in committing to scrap his nuclear weapons programme.

However, South Korea's enthusiasm for engagement with its rival appears to have created discomfort with ally United States amid growing concerns that the North is lagging behind its supposed promise to denuclearize.

Trump said on Wednesday South Korea would not lift sanctions on North Korea without US approval.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha also said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed displeasure about the Koreas' military agreements. Kang was not specific but her comments fueled speculation Washington wasn't fully on board before Seoul signed the agreement.

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Macron too ruled out any sanctions relief or making further concessions to North Korea amid continued fears that Kim might not be prepared to commit to an "irreversible and verifiable" deal to abandon his nuclear ambitions.

There also was criticism in South Korea on Monday of efforts by Moon's government to keep North Korea happy.

Plans to establish road and rail links were a key part of the agreement reached between Moon and Kim when they first met at the border village of Panmunjom in April.

"We are at a very critical moment for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the advancement of inter-Korean relations, and there's also a second North Korea-U.S. summit coming up", Cho told reporters before leaving for Panmunjom. But he didn't offer a straightforward answer when asked whether he would make the same decision in the future.

The South Korea leader, who is Catholic, is set to meet the pope on Thursday and will personally convey Kim's desire for the pontiff to visit North Korea.

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The decision to exclude the reporter from the conservative Chosun Ilbo on Monday drew an angry reaction from other South Korean journalists. The South Korean press corps covering the ministry issued a statement denouncing it for a "grave infringement of media freedoms".

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