North Korean soldier defects to South across border

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Earlier Saturday, Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who threw his support behind further meetings between Trump and the North Korean leader. Marc Knapper, the acting deputy assistant secretary for Japan and South Korea, said this week that the actual lifting of sanctions that would allow projects to proceed on a permanent basis could only come after North Korea's "final, fully verified denuclearization".

A train carrying a team of South Korean officials that will inspect railway sections in the North with their North Korean counterparts passes a section of the Gyeongui Line at the demilitarized zone in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, Friday.

Cho also promised to maintain close consultation "with related nations" - in other words, the United States - so that the project proceeds with global support.

In their most recent summit in Pyongyang in September, Kim and Moon committed to reviving economic co-operation when possible, voicing optimism that global sanctions could end to allow such activity.

On the diplomatic front, President Donald Trump said a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is likely to be held in January or February and three sites are being considered for the meeting.

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The military said it will question the soldier about how he escaped across the border, a 2.5-mile wide, 155-mile long buffer zone that's lined with barbed wire and filled with land mines. Seoul has stressed that actual construction work to modernize North Korean train lines will "be carried out along with progress in North Korean denuclearization". 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.

Twenty-eight South Korean officials including people from the unification, and land, infrastructure and transport ministries will inspect the 400-kilometer section from Gaeseong to Sinuiju through December 5. However, a North Korean soldier has now achieved this feat.

The Unification Ministry said the North will attach its own cars to the engine, but it was unclear how many.

Sanctions enforced by the United Nations Security Council and the US prohibit sending fuel or conducting economic activities that could generate cash for Kim's regime. The line was cut in November 2008 due to political tensions over North Korea's nuclear program and the hard-line policies of a new conservative government in Seoul. Seoul initially said the joint surveys wouldn't violate United Nations sanctions but later said that Washington had different views and the two sides had discussed the matter.