The top executives of both countries state train operators inaugurated a route today that links the North Korean port city of Rajin with the Russian border town of Khasan. Initially, the 54-kilometer (33-mile) line will transport Russian coal to markets in the Asia-Pacific region, OAO Russian Railways Chief Executive Officer Vladimir Yakunin said at the ceremony in Rajin. The second phase of the project will involve the construction of a container-handling facility and potentially an oil terminal at the North Korean site, he said. Our common objective is for this link and port to be a pilot scheme for the restoration of a single transport system in North and South Korea that would link the peninsula to countries that gravitate to this region, to Europe via Russia, Yakunin said. The CEO said he hopes the plan will help promote peace between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war following the conflict 1950-53 that divided the countries. The route is part of a larger project, dubbed the Iron Silk Road, that would connect Russia s Trans-Siberian Railway to South Korea via the North for an overland route cutting transportation costs to Europe. Success depends on improved ties between South Korea and its isolated Communist neighbor. Reunions Scrapped North Korea canceled plans today for reunions this week of families separated by the division of the peninsula, and accused South Korean leaders of throwing obstacles in the way of reconciliation. The North also put off talks on resuming tours by South Koreans to its Mount Geumgang resort after recent weeks of improved relations between the two sides. Kim Jong Uns regime accused the South of seeking confrontation, and threatened strong and decisive retaliation against any military provocation. The Khasan-Rajin rail link will carry 100,000 freight containers a year, the Norths official Korean Central News Agency reported in April 2012. The freight terminal at Rajin will be able to handle 4 million tons a year of coal, Yakunin said today, including shipments for OAO Mechel , Russias biggest supplier of the material for steelmakers. The new rail connection will promote the joint economic and transport development of the two countries and welfare of their peoples, North Korean Railways Minister Chon Kil-su said. To contact the reporter on this story: Ekaterina Shatalova in Rajin, North Korea , via To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at More News:

deal with Russia to put Syria’s chemical weapons stock in international control “could be quite a good outcome,” former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” The resulting outcome, he said, “then becomes a basis for a transition in Syria that leads to relative peace then at the end of the day, however tortuously we arrived at this conclusion, it will have served the interest of the world.” Syria will comply with, give or take, “90 percent” of what the agreement asks, Kissinger predicted. “They may hold back a little, but the risk of holding anything back is very great,” Kissinger said. Asked whether the United States can trust Russia in its about-face alliance, Kissinger surmised: “You can trust the Russians to pursue their own interests.” Kissinger said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has determined extraditing Syria’s chemical weapons is in his country’s best interest. “I would think his biggest security problem is radical Islam – and he does not want the United States to look totally irrelevant in the Middle East, because otherwise he would be struck with having to deal with radical Islam,” Kissinger said of Putin. “There is also a necessity for the selfish interest of both sides for cooperation – and especially if one looks at the long-term situation of Russia, with long frontiers in covering a large land mass – in this sense, one can trust them, but not in sense that he’s suddenly been converted to our point of view.” President Nixon’s former secretary of state said focusing U.S. Syrian policy on removing President Bashar Assad is “not the best way to go,” because the problem in Syria is more about Sunnis versus Shiites, than just about one dictator in control. “The removal of one man would not solve the problem. But the coexistence of these two groups is an element of peace and therefore paradoxically, a total victory for one side would lead to the high probability of a massacre,” Kissinger said. Addressing President Obama’s plans to meet briefly this week with Iran’s new president, who recently declared that Iran will never build a nuclear weapon, Kissinger said the timing’s not quite right. “Iran has been building, with great energy, a nuclear program,” he said. “I would be more at ease if the meeting of the presidents occurred at the end of some diplomatic achievement but I can see the temptations.” Despite government gridlock, and the stop-and-start decision-making process on Syria, Kissinger said, the United States stands to make a difference so long as it settles its economic woes: “If you were a chess player, and said you have two hands here — the rest of the world and the United States — you’ll play the American hand. But it requires that we act with an understandable direction and with some unity.” 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Russia says West exploiting Syria deal to threaten force

Credit: Reuters/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool By Alissa de Carbonnel MOSCOW | Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:56pm EDT MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia accused the West on Sunday of trying to exploit a chemical weapons deal with Syria to push through a U.N. resolution threatening force against President Bashar al-Assad. Assad’s government has handed over information about its chemical arsenal to a U.N.-backed weapons watchdog, meeting the first deadline of the ambitious U.S.-Russia accord that the U.N. Security Council is due to endorse in the coming days. But major powers on the council, who have disagreed throughout a conflict that has killed 100,000 people, remain divided over how to ensure compliance with the accord. The United States, France and Britain want a council resolution issued under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which could authorize sanctions or military intervention if Damascus reneges on its commitments. Russia, which along with China has blocked three draft resolutions on Syria since the 2011 uprising against Assad erupted, opposes Western threats of force against an ally that Moscow has continued to arm and support during the civil war. “They see in the U.S.-Russian deal not a chance to save the planet from significant quantities of chemical weapons in Syria, but as a chance to do what Russia and China will not allow, namely to push through a resolution involving (the threat of) force against the regime and shielding the opposition,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. Assad, in an interview with China’s state broadcaster CCTV, said he was “not concerned” about the U.N. draft resolution. He said that by submitting the draft, “the U.S., France and Britain are just trying to make themselves winners in a war against a Syria which is their imaginary enemy.” He also said China and Russia “are playing a positive role in the Security Council to ensure any excuse for military action against Syria will not stand.” Lavrov said Russia was ready to send troops to Syria to ensure the safety of U.N. chemical weapons inspectors.