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South Korea Proposes Broader Cooperation With North

File picture of Kim Jong-un (L) and Moon Jae-in at the truce village  of Panmunjom, South Korea.File picture of Kim Jong-un (L) and Moon Jae-in at the truce village  of Panmunjom, South Korea.

South Korea President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday offered a bold vision for economic cooperation with North Korea, including joint economic zones along the countries’ border and a linked rail network—provided that the North takes real steps toward giving up its nuclear weapons.

“We must overcome division for our survival and prosperity,” Moon said in a speech marking National Liberation Day, which marks the end of Japan’s colonial rule over a then-unified Korea with the Allied victory in World War II, Yonhap reported.

“Even though political unification is still far away, building a single economic community first by settling peace and freely traveling back and forth between the two Koreas will become genuine liberation for us,” Moon said.

“This community will lead to an energy bloc and economic bloc in Northeast Asia by expanding our economic area to the northern continent and becoming the foundation of co-existence and prosperity in Northeast Asia,” Moon projected, according to Yonhap.

The president’s administration will seek to link railways and roads with the North before year-end.

The initiative is one of many efforts that Seoul is undertaking to strengthen peace in Northeast Asia following June’s milestone US-North Korea summit. Since then, the reclusive regime has dismantled some missile engine testing facilities, but many question leader Kim Jong-un’s willingness to deliver on the denuclearization promise he made to President Donald Trump.

Moon also called for broad energy and economic cooperation with the North, stressing his goal to politically unify both countries. “True liberation” will only be achieved when the two neighbors establish a lasting peace and economic relations, the head of state was quoted as saying.

Next month, Moon is expected to visit North Korea for his third summit meeting with Kim Jong-un. He suggested that South Korea should be a leader, not a spectator, in resolving the dispute between North Korea and the Trump administration over the North’s nuclear weapons.

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