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Russia and North Korea agree to build bridge across Tumen River

Moscow and Pyongyang have been drawing closer economically ahead of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un's May visit to Russia.

By Elizabeth Shim
Russia and North Korea agree to build bridge across Tumen River
Russian military cadets march during the Victory Day parade to on the Red Square in Moscow, on May 9, 2012. Russia has invited North Korea leader Kim Jong Un to this year's celebrations, which mark the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. UPI File Photo | License Photo

MOSCOW, April 16 (UPI) -- Russia and North Korea have agreed to build the first bridge for cars over a mutually shared border in the northeastern corner of North Korea.

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported the announcement came on Wednesday, after the two countries held a ceremony attended by Nikolai Asaul, Russia's deputy minister of transport, and his North Korea counterpart, Kwak Il Ryong, vice minister of land and marine transport.

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The Moscow announcement said the plan is to increase bilateral exchange and tourism in a key area of the Russian Far East that faces the North Korean city of Rason, which has been designated a special economic zone.

The two countries are also working on supplying Russian power to North Korean industry in the area.

A railway bridge that currently connects Russia to North Korea across the Tumen River is used to transport cars, and a metal sheet is rolled out over the tracks as needed.

The transportation plan was made on the same day the Kremlin announced preparations are underway for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's visit to Moscow on May 9.

Russia is due to celebrate its victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, and at least 26 world leaders are expected to attend, Voice of America reported.

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South Korean President Park Geun-hye will not be in attendance, and U.S. President Barack Obama has also declined to participate.

Some European countries are boycotting the event in protest of Moscow's annexation of Crimea and for its role in the Ukraine conflict.

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