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South Korea, US to seek UN sanctions exemption for inter-Korean projects

Working-level officials from South Korea and the US agreed on Thursday that a sanctions exemption was needed to enable the two Koreas to carry out joint projects and said they would ask the United Nations Security Council to waive related restrictions.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the two countries reached consensus during a videoconference that it was necessary to bring electronic devices into North Korea for two inter-Korean projects -- surveys to prepare for the reconnection of cross-border railways and the excavation of the remains of an independence fighter who took up arms against Japan’s colonial rule. The videoconferences between South Korea and the US take place twice a month.

The UN has imposed strict sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. As a result, the North is prohibited from importing refined petroleum, machinery and equipment. 

United Nations (Yonhap)
United Nations (Yonhap)

“During the meeting, officials from the two sides agreed on the need for mine clearance equipment to uncover the remains and for the joint railway project. The request to the UNSC will be made shortly,” a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

In November, the UN granted a sanctions exemption for deliveries of fuel needed to conduct surveys to prepare for the railway reconnection project.

The working-level officials also discussed video reunions and the exchange of video letters for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

“I was told that it would take considerable time to have various reviews of such devices and sanctions on North Korea,” Noh Kyu-duk, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters at a regular briefing.

Two key inter-Korean economic projects -- the joint industrial park in the North’s border town of Kaesong and a suspended tourism program to Kumgangsan -- were not part of the agenda, he said, because those projects were “not urgent pending issues.”

On Wednesday, the Unification Ministry said the government would extend to next week its review of a request to visit North Korea by some 180 South Korean business owners who operated factories at the Kaesong Industrial Complex. They had initially proposed making the trip on Wednesday.

By Park Han-na (
Korea Herald daum