North and South Korea agree to launch regular train service across their border

>SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North and South Korea agreed Friday to launch cross-border rail service for the first time in more than half a century, the latest sign of improving relations between the two sides.

The rail’s Dec. 11 opening will also mark one of the first tangible results of a summit last month between South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang.

The service, which will be limited to freight transport, will have trains running along a 16-mile track across the heavily armed frontier to a joint industrial complex in the North’s border city of Kaesong.

Friday’s agreement, reached after three days of talks between the countries’ prime ministers in Seoul, also calls for the South to start building shipyards in North Korea and repairing a major highway and a railroad in the impoverished country next year.

The two sides will also start setting up a joint fishing area around their disputed western sea border.