Koreas open liaison office to help NorthSouth relations
North and South Korea have opened a liaison office on the North’s side of their heavily militarised border, setting up a permanent channel of communication as part of a flurry of efforts to end their decades-old rivalry.
Steps by North and South Korea to improve their relations are running parallel to efforts by the US and its allies to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.
The opening of the joint liaison office at Kaesong, just inside the North Korean side of the border, comes days before the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, are due to hold their third meeting this year.
“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 two Koreas previously communicated by fax and special telephone lines, which were often severed when their relations took a turn for the worse. Now they would be able to “directly discuss issues 24 hours, 365 days”, South Korea’s unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, said at the ceremony.
The office will be staffed by up to 20 people from each side, with the South Koreans on the second floor and the North Koreans on the fourth floor of the four-storey building.
Vice-minister-level officials would head their teams at the office and would attend weekly meetings, South Korea’s unification ministry said.