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South Korea plans to develop road, rail links with North Korea

South Korea plans to develop road and rail links with North Korea by the end of 2018 in an effort to increase economic engagement as progress on denuclearization stalls.

The move could risk U.S. ire as Washington has said tough sanctions on Pyongyang should be maintained to force the regime to abandon its nuclear weapons, the Financial Times reported.

"Even though political unification may be a long way off, establishing peace between the South and the North and freely visiting each other, and forming a joint economic community is true liberation to us," South Korean President Moon Jae-in said at an event commemorating his country's independence day.

The South Korean president said he hopes to create a "Northeast Asian railroad community" that could bring the two Koreas, the U.S. and four other Asian countries, likely China, Japan, Russia and Mongolia, closer.

South Korea has been working on plans to establish links between the two Koreas since the U.S. and North Korea pledged to work toward peace at a historic meeting of the two country's leaders. The plans include developing three economic belts along the west and east coast of the peninsula and across the demilitarized zone, the FT reported.

The leaders of North and South Korea agreed to hold a third summit in September even as talks between the U.S. and North Korea over the "complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" have made little progress.