(ATTN: ADDS more info from 4th para, photo)
SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea plan to conduct joint inspections of railways this week as part of efforts to modernize and connect rail links over the inter-Korean border, the unification ministry said Thursday.
The field inspection will be carried out on the railways running along the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula on Friday, which will be followed by similar work on the railways in the western region Tuesday, according to the ministry.
The move is to follow up on the two Koreas' agreement made during working-level inter-Korean talks in June to cooperate on modernizing and eventually linking their railways. As an initial step, they agreed to conduct joint inspections of railways in mid-July.
The railroads subject to inspection are all located in the North.
They include the route running from Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast to the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) that separates the two Koreas. In the western region, the Kaesong-MDL line will also be looked at, the ministry said.
South Korea will send a 15-member team led by a senior transportation ministry official for Friday's inspection, it said. The North will send five officials.
After the planned work is complete, the two sides plan to hold their first research group meeting Tuesday to discuss cooperation, the ministry said.
It will be the first time in about 10 years that the countries have conducted such joint inspections related to railway cooperation.
The leaders of the two Koreas held a historic summit in April to halt hostile acts against each other and promote cross-border exchanges and cooperation.