Two Koreas open joint liaison office in North

By AFP |September 14,2018 - 08:44 PM

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and the North’s Kim Jong Un will hold their third summit this year in Pyongyang.
/AFP

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

“A new chapter in history is open here today,” South Korean unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon told a ceremony, calling the office “another symbol of peace jointly created by the South and the North.”

The nuclear-armed North’s chief delegate Ri Son Gwon responded in kind, calling it a “substantial fruit nourished by the people of the north and south.”

The two Koreas have sought to pursue joint projects in multiple fields since the April summit between Moon and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula, even as US efforts to secure concrete progress towards Pyongyang’s denuclearization have stalled.

Moon will fly to the North’s capital on Tuesday to meet with Kim as he seeks to rekindle the process.

The leaders’ first meeting as well as key events during the three-day visit will be shown live on television, Moon’s office said after a working-level meeting with the North on Friday.

Moon’s trip will mark his third summit with Kim this year after he orchestrated a rapid diplomatic thaw on the peninsula and brokered June’s

Singapore summit between the North Korean leader and US President Donald Trump.

There Kim backed denuclearization 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.

The North was “willing to denuclearize,” Moon said Thursday, while the US was willing to “end hostile relations” and provide security guarantees, “but there is a blockage as both sides are demanding each other to act first.”

Last month, Trump abruptly canceled a planned visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang, after the North condemned “gangster-like” demands for what it called its unilateral disarmament.

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 US president and raising hopes of progress.

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