North Korean Soldier Defects to South, Crossing Heavily Armed Border

Minnie Murray
December 2, 2018

But beyond surveys and tape-cuttings, the Koreas can not move much further along without the removal of USA -led sanctions against the North, which isn't likely before it takes firmer steps toward relinquishing its nuclear weapons and missiles.

The last defection involving North Koreans occurred in May when two civilians aboard a small boat fled to the South across the Yellow Sea.

Three sites are under consideration for a second U.S. -DPRK summit, President Donald Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday, en route back from a G20 meeting in Argentina.

It marked the first time in a decade that a train from the South entered North Korea.

During the surveys, a North Korean train engine will pull six South Korean cars - including passenger and sleeping cars, a power-generator vehicle and a fuel tanker - to test operability.

More than 30,000 North Korean civilians have fled their homeland since the peninsula was divided at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. A train will leave Seoul Station in the early morning and arrive in the North Korean city of Sinuiju, near the Chinese border, before heading to Pyongyang.

They will travel some 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles) on railway tracks together, the transport ministry said. The South Korean train was composed of a locomotive and six other cars that went into the North to reach Panmun Station in Kaesong.

"These are global sanctions put in place by the United Nations Security Council which deny North Korea the capacity to improve their economy", the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said Sunday.

USA officials are seeking a "substantive next step" toward denuclearization, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN on Saturday, adding that Washington has been seeing good progress in discussions with Pyongyang. The postponement stirred concerns that nuclear talks between the US and North Korea had again bogged down, as Kim's regime seeks sanctions relief before taking key disarmament steps.

But differences have emerged between Washington and Seoul on how to proceed with Kim, as the dovish Moon has long favored engagement with the North.

After Trump and Kim agreed to work towards the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in the first summit, progress has been largely symbolic owing to the absence of a clear route map for disarmament.

"As he promised, President Moon should invite Kim to Seoul and convince him" of making headway in the stalled denuclearization talks, former Unification Minster Jeong Se-hyun said during a meeting with liberal politicians on Saturday.

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