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North and South Korea agree to relink roads and railroads, but US officials are wary

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon (right) shakes hands with North Korean delegation head Ri Son Gwon (left) during their high-level talks at a border village on Monday in Panmunjom, South Korea. (Korea Pool/Getty Images)

After a summit, North and South Korea have agreed to start reconnecting roads and train tracks between the two countries.

What are the details?

Leaders from North Korea and South Korea met last month in the border village of Panmunjom to discuss the future relationship between the two nations. Panmunjom, which is located inside the Demilitarized Zone, is also the site of an earlier summit.

The roads and rail lines in question have been severed since at least 1953, when the fighting in the Korean War ended. That war is still technically going on, but both sides have expressed their eagerness to officially end the conflict.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon stressed to reporters before the summit that the success of meetings like this one were crucial.

"We are at a very critical moment for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the advancement of inter-Korean relations," Cho said, "and there’s also a second North Korea-U.S. summit coming up."

Military leaders from both Koreas are planning to meet at some point in the near future, to discuss de-escalating the border, including removing landmines and cutting down the number of guard posts.

U.S. officials are concerned that South Korea's willingness to make deals with North Korea could harm negotiations to get North Korea to denuclearize. The U.S. has been insistent that sanctions stay in place until North Korea until denuclearization goals are met.

However, South Korean president Moon Jae-in has argued that at least some sanctions should be lifted as a sign of good faith, even before denuclearization.

"Chairman Kim Jong Un told me that he was willing not just to stop testing nuclear weapons and missiles and dismantle the facilities that produce them, but also to dispose of all the nuclear weapons and fissile materials his country owns now, if the United States takes corresponding steps," Moon said.

What else?

Panmunjom was created as a neutral territory between the two nations after the war wound down, but that fell apart in 1976 when North Korean soldiers killed two American officers. Now, as the relationship between North and South Korea begins to thaw, the village could once again become a neutral meeting ground.

One last thing…
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