Koreas open 1st liaison office for better communication

Blanche Robertson
September 14, 2018

Picture taken on April 18, 2018.

"We'll sit face to face, exchange our thoughts fast and accurately and put our heads together to resolve hard matters", said South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon in an opening ceremony, adding that the office will become the "cradle of Korean co-prosperity".

The New Yorker's Susan Glasser recently talked with several former US government officials and allied diplomats who have received briefings from Trump administration officials about North Korean denuclearization efforts, and they've all come away believing that leader Kim Jong-un has shown no intention of relinquishing his country's nuclear weapons.

The two sides in the past communicated by fax or special phone lines, which would often be cut when relations soured.

"The two sides are now able to take a large step toward peace, prosperity and unification of the Korean peninsula by quickly and frankly discussing issues arising from inter-Korean relations", said Ri Son Gwon, the head of North Korea's delegation at the opening ceremony.

The four-storey building will see the South Koreans placed on the second floor and the North Koreans on the fourth floor, Reuters reports. Seoul's unification ministry says about 15-20 South Korean officials are expected to stay at the office and a nearby lodging facility in Kaesong during the weekdays.

The office is at the site of the Kaesong industrial complex, where for about a decade, South Korean companies ran production lines staffed by North Korean workers at the industrial park.

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North and South Korea opened a joint liaison office in the Northern city of Kaesong on Friday (Sep 14) as they knit closer ties ahead of President Moon Jae-in's visit to Pyongyang next week.

South Korea had hoped to open the office by August but it was delayed when denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea stalled after an historic summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore in June.

South Korea's presidential office said separately that it will hold working-level talks with North Korea on Friday to prepare for next week's inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.

There Kim backed denuclearisation of the "Korean peninsula", but no details were agreed and Washington and Pyongyang have sparred since over what that means and how it will be achieved.

But Kim has since sent Trump a letter seeking a second summit and held a military parade for his country's 70th birthday without showing off any intercontinental ballistic missiles, prompting warm tweets from the United States president and raising hopes of progress.

But then conservative President Park Geun-hye's government shuttered it in 2016 in response to the North's nuclear and missile tests.

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