Koreas Begin Talks on Shipbuilding Project

Korea Times
Yoon Won-sup
12/25/2007

The two Koreas began four-day talks in the southern port city of Busan Tuesday to discuss ways of establishing shipbuilding areas in North Korea, according to the Unification Ministry.

A sub-committee for shipbuilding and marine cooperation, part of an agreement reached at the inter-Korean prime ministers’ meeting last month, convened for the first time to map out the details of the shipbuilding project.

The talks are a follow-up measure following the inter-Korean summit in early October, which produced agreements for establishing shipbuilding areas in Anbyeon and Nampo in North Korea.

The committee has already conducted several joint field studies in the two areas.

The officials will also discuss the passage of North Korean ships in the seas off Haeju and basic maritime rules. They will see if they need further measures to implement the agreement on marine affairs made by the two Koreas in 2005.

“The talks will mainly cover shipbuilding cooperation between the two Koreas,” a government official said.

The four-member North Korean delegation arrived at Gimhae Airport in the afternoon and will visit shipbuilding yards today.

Though the two Koreas agreed on economic cooperation and various projects in the West Sea, they failed to narrow differences over the western maritime border, the Northern Limit Line (NLL), and the designation of joint fishing zones in the area.

In talks held in mid-December, generals sought in vain to reach common ground on the establishment of joint fishery areas in the West Sea, a core part of an inter-Korean summit agreement to build a peace zone around the disputed western waters.

South Korea offered to designate a few joint fishing areas near the NLL with the fishery zones taking up equivalent areas on both sides of the line.

North Korea, however, insisted four joint fishing areas should be created south of the NLL, which it refuses to recognize as the legitimate sea border between the two countries.

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