SEOUL - South Korean officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday on a project meant to modernize North Korea’s railways and roads to connect them with the South.
The event at the North Korean border town of Kaesong is one of a number of peace gestures agreed between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in as they push ahead with engagement amid a stalemate in larger nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. However, the ceremony is largely symbolic, since the project cannot make major strides without the removal of U.S.-led sanctions against North Korea. The two Koreas conducted a joint survey of the northern railway sections they hope to link with the South weeks ago. During his three summits with Moon and a meeting with President Donald Trump in June, Kim signed vague statements pledging a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing how and when it would occur. But followup nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled for months over the sequencing of the denuclearization that Washington wants and the removal of international sanctions desired by Pyongyang.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said the Seoul government plans to conduct further surveys on North Korean railways and roads before drawing up a detailed blueprint for the project.
“Actual construction will be pursued in accordance with progress in the North’s denuclearization and the state of sanctions against the North,” the ministry said in a statement.
Even if the North takes concrete steps toward denuclearization and gains sanctions relief, some experts say updating North Korean rail networks and trains, which creak slowly along the rails that were first built in the early 20th century, could take decades and massive investment. (Fox News)
KABUL - Afghanistan and China will be connected to a fiber optic network via Wakhan port within the next seven months, Ajmal Ayan, head of Afghan Telecom Telecommunication Company said on Tuesday.
Aryan said the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is working on the implementation of Wakhan corridor project and is also undertaking programs to be connected to the fiber optic networks in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan through Silk Route fiber optic network.
“We have been providing round-the-clock services to people across all 34 provinces. Compared to last year, we have managed to increase our revenues by 11% and we have saved 31% of our expenses. We are pleased to announce that AFs 9.4 billion was added to government’s treasury in just six months of 1397 solar year, contributing to the state revenue. This is a truly great achievement for our ministry,” he said.
He said that the company will reduce internet services prices by 50 percent within the next few weeks.
He said that Afghan Telecom asset is about AFs 21 billion and the company reduced its losses by 20% compared to past years.
Afghan Telecom has paid $17.9 million in tax under the 10% rate of the Afghanistan law, said Ayan.
Ayan said that Afghan Telecom also plans to introduce 4G internet services in the country in the next six months.
Meanwhile, officials from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said one of the key reasons behind internet outage in the country is issues around fiber optic network.
Nearly 480km of fiber optic cable will connect Afghanistan to China’s fiber optic network, he said.
With the expansion of fiber optic network, internet services will be better, said Saer Zaland, spokesman for the ministry.
“Our achievements in the financial sector during 1397 is remarkable. We have been able to increase our revenue from AFs 8.4 billion to AFs 10 billion and reduce our operational budget from AFs 7 billion down to AFs 6 billion. Now, our net income is around 16%,” Zaland said.
Although, 4G internet services are already introduced in Afghanistan, but citizens have been constantly criticizing the prices and low speed.
Afghan Telecom chief confirmed that Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority of Afghanistan (ATRA) has slapped over AFs 900 million fine on telecom companies over weak internet services.
Reports say that currently Afghanistan has been connected to five neighboring countries through fiber optic networks, but technical problems in Afghanistan are blamed for slow internet services and high consumer prices. (Tolo news)