North Korean Soldier Defects to South, Crossing Heavily Armed Border

South Korea to send trains to North Korea in joint survey to connect railways separated since Korean War

North Korean soldier defects to South

It will travel to Wonsan and other areas on the east coast for a joint survey of 745 miles of North Korea's railway system and facilities, the ministry said.

"I think it will be absolutely imperative in this next summit that we come away with a plan for identifying all of the weapons in question, identifying all the development sites, allowing for inspections of the sites and the plan for dismantling nuclear weapons", Pence said.

Further details about the soldier were not available. There was no unusual movement from the North Korean army at the time the soldier crossed, it said. Moon and Kim specifically agreed to hold a tape-cutting ceremony by the end of this year to mark the beginning of an inter-Korean project connecting roads and railways between the two countries.

A North Korean soldier reportedly defected to South Korea at around 7:56 a.m. local time on Saturday.

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

In November previous year, a North Korean soldier drove to the heavily guarded border at speed and ran across under a hail of bullets from his own side.

In November 2017, a North Korean soldier dashed through a hail of bullets fired by his fellow troops to enter the South through Panmunjom, the so-called truce village that straddles the border.

More than 30,000 North Korean civilians have fled their homeland but most flee across the porous frontier with China, and rarely across the inter-Korean border which is fortified with minefields and barbed wire. In recent months, however, the two sides have begun to remove landmines and destroy military bunkers at parts of the border as part of efforts to improve long-strained relations.

While talking about the bilateral meeting, Moon's top press secretary Yoon Young-chan said, "While affirming his commitment to holding a second North Korea-U.S. summit early next year, President Trump asked that South Korea and the U.S. closely cooperate so the next summit will be another historical milestone in the process of denuclearising the Korean Peninsula". Despite the warming ties, it remains unclear whether the North's leader Kim Jong Un will make his first-ever visit to the South this year, as Seoul is hoping.

South Korean soldiers open the gate as the rails which leads to North Korea is seen, inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju.

In his talks with Trump at the G-20 in Argentina, Moon earned some support for the Seoul summit from the USA leader - perhaps in a bid to entice Kim to make good on his pledge.

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