PYONGYANG, North Korea, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A 33.5-mile rail link connecting North Korea's port city of Rajin and Russia's border town of Khasan has opened to promote trade in the region.
The Rajin-Khasan rail link "serves as a landmark in promoting the friendly and cooperative relations between the DPRK (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea) and Russia, strengthening the economic and cultural ties in the Asia-Pacific region and ensuring the common prosperity of regional countries," the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's official news agency, reported.
Rajin, in the far northeast near North Korea's borders with Russia and China, is part of the Rason Special Economic Zone, which North Korea established in 1991. Construction on the project began in 2008, following an agreement in 2001 between the two countries.
At the opening of the rail link, Vladimir Yakunin, head of Russia's state-run railways, said it would eventually be used to transport coal and other goods into Asia and Europe, RIA-Novosti reported. Future plans call for the construction of a container-handling facility and terminal with a capacity of 4 million tons, the report said.
China Daily said development activity at Rason has picked up in recent years.
"The friendly and cooperative relationship between the DPRK and Russia will grow stronger with the geopolitical importance of Northeast Asia," the KCNA report said.