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Peace Bid Gathers Steam
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North Korea and South Korea will unveil a landmark achievement in their reconciliation this week.


At the general-level talks, the militaries of the two sides agreed on Friday on the test run of trains to cross the heavily fortified border. Cross-border trains have not run in 54 years.


The militaries of the two sides decided to provide guarantees for the safe operation of the test runs on two rail lines on each side of the peninsula.


The test run, scheduled for Thursday, would symbolize another step in the reconciliation between the two countries


Last week's discussion was the first military contact between North and South Korea in a year. Without a peace treaty to replace the 1953 ceasefire that put the Korean War to an end, the two are still technically at war.


The two Koreas agreed on the restoration of the train lines seven years ago. This is believed to be one of the most important projects of the inter-Korean rapprochement in recent years.


This step is a major breakthrough in South Korea's push for expanding reconciliation projects with North Korea to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.


Issuing a joint statement after their military talks, the two sides acknowledged that military guarantees are necessary for economic cooperation and exchanges.


The two Koreas are expected to deliberate military security guarantees for future operations of the cross-border lines at a later date.


This momentum in the reconciliation process is important to ease military tensions and establish peace on the peninsula.


Their reconciliation has been moving on significantly since the 2000 summit between their leaders. South Korea has always left the door ajar for diplomatic maneuvers with North Korea. It announced that it is committed to its "sunshine policy" of engaging North Korea even after the latter launched the missile tests last year.


Yet another sign of revived ties was evident last week. About 148 people from South Korea crossed the border on Wednesday to reunite with more than 250 relatives in North Korea they have not seen since the end of the Korean War.


The re-connection of the cross-border railway would speed up the inter-Korean rapprochement process.


It is hoped that the two sides will keep the positive developments on the peninsula moving forward.


(China Daily May 14, 2007)

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