Two Koreas open their first joint liaison office
North and South Korea on Friday opened up their first permanent channel of communication as ties warm further.
Iran Press/Asia-The first joint liaison office of two Koreas in the North Korean border town of "Kaesong" will be staffed by personnel from both countries, marking another advance in the rival states’ rapidly improving relationship,according to Washington post.
South Korean officials, consider the office another important step toward ending decades of enmity and hope it will eventually lead to the establishment of diplomatic missions in each other’s capitals.
“From today, South and North Korea can hold face-to-face discussions 24 hours a day and every day of the year on matters concerning improving inter-Korean ties and promoting peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula,” Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, the South Korean official who oversees relations with the North, said during a speech in Kaesong.
They said the new facility would reduce the chances of dangerous misunderstandings along the heavily armed inter-Korean border. It will also serve as a venue for meetings as the two countries consider joint economic projects and other matters, they said.More than 50 South Korean officials, politicians, businesspeople and scholars visited Kaesong on Friday for the opening ceremony.
Mr. Cho’s North Korean counterpart, Ri Son-gwon, urged both Koreas to work together to open “a broad avenue for peace and prosperity.”
Until now, the only regular channel of communication between North and South Korea has been telephone hotlines that their governments and armed forces have run across the border. But those have been turned off and on again over the years, depending on the political climate.
The office is in a four-story building within what used to be a factory park. The two Koreas jointly ran that park, which was established during an earlier period of warmth in their off-and-on relationship, until the South shut it down in 2016 amid rising tensions over the North’s nuclear arms program.
An agreement to open the new office was first reached in April, when President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, held their first summit meeting.
They originally planned to open it in late August, but the date was pushed back after US President Donald Trump canceled a trip to Pyongyang by his secretary of state, citing a lack of progress in denuclearization talks with the North; However he backed off from his demand.
Meanwhile, Kwun Hyuk-ki, South Korean Presidential Office spokesman announced details of President Moon Jae-in's forthcoming trip to Pyongyang to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Moon and Kim are meeting next week for the third time this year to discuss denuclearization of the peninsula and other issues.
South Korea has dismissed concerns that it is opening up to the North too quickly, and that it should insist on more concrete steps toward denuclearization in return. Mr. Moon argues that improving inter-Korean ties will encourage, not deter, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This month he sent envoys to North Korea, who reported that Mr. Kim wanted denuclearization before the end of Mr. Trump’s current term, if he were offered the right incentives.