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Shipyards build détente on Korean peninsula

Shipyards build détente on Korean peninsula

Seoul: Shipbuilding is providing détente on the Korean peninsula. The two Koreas have agreed to conduct a joint geological survey in Anbyeon and Nampo in North Korea in the first quarter of next year as part of preparatory measures to build shipbuilding yards there. The agreement came Friday after the first meeting of the inter-Korean committee on shipbuilding and marine cooperation held in Busan on December 25-28. However, the committee failed to agree on ways of improving the investment environment in the shipbuilding cooperation areas such as customs clearance, transportation and telecommunications, which were main items on the agenda for discussion.
The delegates also discussed the passage of North Korean ships from the seas off Haeju to the South and basic maritime rules. However, they couldn't reach agreement on the route because of different views on the western maritime border, the Northern Limit Line (NLL).
The South suggested North Korean ships, which leave the port of Haeju for South Korean water by crossing the NLL, should be under supervision on crossing the line toward the South. Meanwhile, the North adhered to its original position that the control point should be set below the line not on the line, according to the ministry officials.
The NLL, drawn up by the U.S.-led United Nations Command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, has served as the de facto sea border. Pyongyang rejects recognizing the line, calling for a redrawing of the border, but Seoul maintains a firm stance that this cannot be a matter of discussion, as it sees it as a territorial concession.
The committee's second meeting will be held in Kaeseong in March and the members of the committee will continue discussions on shipbuilding and maritime cooperation.
The talks are a follow-up measure from the inter-Korean summit held in Pyongyang in early October, which agreed on the construction of shipbuilding yards.
The inter-Korean prime ministers' meeting in November agreed to begin construction of a shipbuilding factory in Anbyeon in the first half of 2008 and to modernize a ship repair factory in Nampo as soon as possible.
The committee on shipbuilding and maritime cooperation was formed as part of the inter-Korean economic cooperation committee following the October summit.  [31/12/07]

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