Russia, North Korea to expand railroad cooperation

The two countries also signed agreements to allow for increased student exchange.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Jan. 31, 2017 at 11:32 AM
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Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Russia and North Korea are discussing plans to expand railroad cooperation between the two countries, after Russian officials made a rare visit to the relatively isolated country.

The two sides discussed increasing bilateral exchange, including raising the number of North Korean students studying in Russia.

According to Russia's TASS news agency, Michuk Igori Vladimirovich, the deputy administrator of government-owned Russian Railways, headed a delegation that visited Pyongyang last Friday.

During the visit, which concluded Monday, the two sides discussed expanding cooperation that could foster highly skilled North Korea railway manpower, TASS reported.

After meeting with North Korea officials, the Russian delegation signed an agreement extending terms of study abroad for North Korean students from Pyongyang University of Railroad Engineering, who can enroll at Far Eastern Federal University in Khabarovsk.

Another memorandum of understanding will allow North Korean railroad experts to receive education at Russian universities.

The budget for the education of North Korean experts will come from the Russian government, and North Korea agreed it would fund the education of its students.

Vladimirovich said there are currently 24 North Korean students studying rail engineering and transportation in Russia.

"They will contribute greatly to the development of cooperation between the two railway systems," the Russian official said.

Russia and North Korea share the Rajin-Hasan Railway, which was renovated between 2008 and 2014, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

The railroad was used to transport Russian coal to South Korea, until shipments were suspended owing to rising tensions on the peninsula.

The bilateral agreements come at a time of continued economic changes in North Korea.

A source in the country who spoke anonymously to Yonhap said on Tuesday Pyongyang authorities are permitting North Koreans to own cars.

The newly wealthy who can afford automobiles have been registering their vehicles, the source said.

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