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Moon says economic prosperity will bring genuine liberation to Koreas

South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony to celebrate Korean Liberation Day, which marks the 73rd anniversary of freedom from Japanese colonial rule, in Seoul, South Korea, on Aug. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL (Kyodo) -- South Korean President Moon Jae In said Wednesday the "genuine liberation" of the Koreas will come through improved economic ties and prosperity when speaking at an event marking the end of Japanese colonial rule 73 years ago.

"Building a single economic community first by settling peace and freely traveling back and forth between the two Koreas will become genuine liberation for us," Moon said at the event in Seoul.

The president vowed to improve inter-Korean relations further to help expedite U.S.-North Korea talks on denuclearization and rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.

Moon also said South Korea will aim to reconnect cross-border railroads and roads with the North by the end of the year, saying that would be the precursor to mutual prosperity on the peninsula.

Joint railroad and road projects were agreed at a historic inter-Korean summit in April, and there have been several discussion sessions between the two Koreas to realize the agreement.

Moon added that the re-establishment of those connections would lead to the creation of an "East Asian Railroad Community" that encompasses six Northeast Asian countries and the United States.

He did not name those six countries, but they are understood to be the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and Mongolia.

Drawing an analogy with the European Coal and Steel Community, which started an integration process that later culminated in the European Union, Moon said such a railroad community would later lead to the creation of East Asian energy and economic communities.

As for a proposed joint liaison office the two Koreas agreed in April to set up in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, the president said it will begin operating within days.

"In a few days, an era in which the two Koreas communicate with each other around the clock will commence," he said.

The two Koreas have agreed to hold the next summit meeting between Moon and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang in September, their third following the one in April and the second the following month.

"We two leaders will confirm the implementation of the Panmunjeom Declaration and take an audacious step to proceed toward the declaration of an end to the Korean War and the signing of a peace treaty as well as the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he said.

In the Panmunjeom Declaration, signed between Moon and Kim at the April summit, the two Koreas agreed to strive to declare a formal end to the 1950-1953 war this year.

The United States, meanwhile, has shown unwillingness to make such a declaration before North Korea takes denuclearization steps.

Japan established colonial rule over Korea in 1910. On Aug. 15, 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allied forces, ending World War II and its decades-long rule over the peninsula.

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