Seoul proposes meeting with Pyongyang on dormant North Korean tour project

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, visits the Diamond Mountain resort in Kumgang, North Korea. (KCNA/Korea News Service via AP)
Updated 29 October 2019

Seoul proposes meeting with Pyongyang on dormant North Korean tour project

  • Kim Jong Un last week ordered the destruction of Seoul-built facilities in North Korea’s Diamond Mountain resort
  • The inter-Korean tourism project began in 1998 and was a rare source of foreign currency for the impoverished North

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korea on Monday proposed a face-to-face meeting with North Korea over the fate of a long-shuttered joint tourist project at a scenic North Korean mountain.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week ordered the destruction of South Korean-built facilities at the North’s Diamond Mountain resort, saying they look “shabby” and “unpleasant-looking.” North Korea later proposed an exchange of documents to work out details.
The inter-Korean tourism project began in 1998 and was a rare source of foreign currency for the impoverished North, but it was halted in 2008 when a North Korean soldier fatally shot a South Korean tourist there.
Pyongyang has called for the project’s restart since it entered nuclear diplomacy with Washington and Seoul last year. But Seoul cannot revive tours to the mountain and other massive stalled inter-Korean economic projects while international sanctions remain in place over the North’s nuclear program.
On Monday, South Korea sent a message proposing officials from the two Koreas meet to discuss issues on the tourist project including the North’s push to tear down South Korean-constructed facilities there, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. Spokesman Lee Sang-min said South Korea hasn’t yet proposed a specific date and location for that meeting.
Lee said South Korea has determined there should be “some sort of meeting” between the two Koreas to discuss the issue.
The South Korean-made facilities include hotels, restaurants, spas and a golf course.
North Korea didn’t immediately respond to South Korea’s proposals.


Iraq partially reopens Iran trade crossing

Updated 34 min 32 sec ago

Iraq partially reopens Iran trade crossing

  • The crossing was being opened only for the trade of foodstuffs, allowing in some 500 trucks from Iran per week

BASRA: Iraq partially reopened its southern Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran on Tuesday after more than three months of closure to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, border officials said.
The crossing was being opened only for the trade of foodstuffs, allowing in some 500 trucks from Iran per week and would open every Wednesday and Sunday from now on, one of the officials said.
Iraq closed its international borders and provincial boundaries in March except for the delivery of essential goods such as food as it sought to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Iran, which shares a long border with Iraq, has been the epicenter of the virus in the Middle East but the spread has also accelerated in Iraq which is registering nearly 2,000 new cases every day. More than 2,500 people have died from COVID-19 in Iraq according to its health ministry.
Iran is one of Iraq’s biggest trading partners. Both countries’ economies are in crisis. Iran continues to suffer from US sanctions and Iraq is reeling from low prices of oil, which accounts for almost all its state revenue.

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