Historic Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula

After the Bush administration’s brilliant diplomatic efforts successfully dealt with the threat of a nuclear North Korea, both the North and South have agreed to joint economic projects. Not to mention a lessening of war based tension.

(New York Times) — The prime ministers of North and South Korea announced a significant package of cross-border economic projects today to help rebuild the North’s broken economy and ease military tension on the divided Korean Peninsula by increasing human and cargo traffic across the demilitarized zone.

At the end of three days of talks here, North Korea’s prime minister, Kim Yong-il, and his South Korean counterpart, Han Duck-soo, agreed to start cross-border freight-train service for the first time in more than half a century, scheduling the first, and highly symbolic, border crossing a week before South Korea holds presidential elections on Dec. 19.

Then, starting in the first half of 2008, fishing boats from the two Koreas will work together in a joint fishing zone in the same frontier waters where their respective navies engaged in a bloody skirmish in 2002, the prime ministers said.

Also, the North will relocate its warships from Haeju, a naval base near the border, to make room for South Korean cargo ships and a new industrial complex to be built there by South Korean investors. Construction will begin as early as next year.

“These projects will chip away at the DMZ,” said Koh Yu-hwan, an expert on North Korea at Dongguk University in Seoul. “They are steppingstones toward what we hope will become a confederation of the two Koreas before eventual reunification.”

Thanks to President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and the entire administration, there is actual talk of reunification. There is actual progress.