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North Korea Clears Way For Russian Trans-Korea Railroad

Kim Jong-Il, the leader of North Korea (file photo) (epa) March 17, 2006 -- North Korea has agreed in principle to the creation of an international consortium to re-establish and rebuild a railway from Russia to the border with South Korea, the head of Russia's rail system says.

Vladimir Yakunin said $2.5 billion is needed to modernize the 800 kilometers of track running from North Korea to the South Korean border.

The preliminary agreement was reached after talks between Russian, North and South Korean officials in the city of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East. Negotiations about the railway link have been under way since 2001, but have foundered on the proposal to create a consortium, a spokeswoman for Russian Railways said.

China and Japan have previously expressed an interest in joining an international consortium.