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Generals Put First Rail Run on Track
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Generals from North and South Koreas Thursday agreed on the first train crossings over their heavily armed border in more than 50 years, a move long sought by Seoul as a symbol of reconciliation.

The South Korea's Yonhap News cited a government source saying generals from the two Koreas agreed to provide military security measures on the day of a test train run and would exchange statements of agreement early today.

The two Koreas are now planning a test run on May 17. One train carrying about 100 people would make the crossing from the North on the east coast and a similar one would cross from the South along the west coast, South Korea officials said.

The last train to run between the North and the South was during the 1950-53 Korean War, carrying wounded soldiers and refugees. The two are technically still at war because their fratricidal conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty.

Despite the agreement with the South, Pyongyang said tensions with its neighbor were still high because of a disputed maritime border off the west coast.

"The situation in the West Sea of Korea (Yellow Sea) is so unpredictable and serious that the third West Sea skirmish can occur there anytime due to the arrogant moves of the South Korean warlike forces," the North's KCNA news agency quoted a naval command spokesman as saying.

The discussions were extended beyond their planned end Thursday because the North wanted to talk about a maritime border and fishing grounds, Yonhap said.

The South has built two sets of tracks from its side into the North one about 60 km northwest of Seoul. It has also constructed elaborate but now cavernous and idle stations near the border in anticipation of rail travel between the two.

(China Daily via agencies May 11, 2007)

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