South Korea Sends Rail Chief To North On Eve Of Obama Visit
April 22, 2014 • 9:23AM

President Obama, on his way to Japan and Korea this week, has been trying to pry President Park Geun-hye away from China and into a military bloc with the US and Japan, using the potential threats from North Korea as the lever. But the Park government recognizes that the only chance for reaching a solution to the North Korea quandary lies in cooperation with Russia and China to convince Pyongyang that joint development is in the interest of all parties.

It is thus a critical sign that Park is sending Choi Yeon-hye, president and CEO of the Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL), to North Korea to attend a meeting of the Organization for Co-Operation between Railways (OSJD) set for April 24-28, precisely while Obama is in Seoul. The rail conference in Pyongyang is "meant to boost international cooperation between railway operators, bringing together top rail officials from China, Russia and 25 other member states of the OSJD," according to Yonhap.

Yonhap's report adds that "attention has been focused on whether Choi and North Korean officials would discuss a plan to link South Korea's railway with Russia's trans-Siberian railway via North Korea." Choi told Yonhap that "we plan to ask OSJD member states to allow South Korea to become a formal member."

Choi, who is in Beijing to get a visa to the North, said he would take a train from Beijing to Pyongyang.