Published: Tue, September 18, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Koreas inaugurate joint liaison office in Kaesong

Koreas inaugurate joint liaison office in Kaesong

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"President Moon Jae-in said the goal of this inter-Korea summit is terminating military conflict between North and South and war threats during the cabinet meeting", said Kim.

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 United States efforts to secure concrete progress towards Pyongyang's denuclearisation have stalled.

South Korea has said it hopes the liaison office will help in those efforts.

Moon heads to Pyongyang on Tuesday facing lingering questions over his claim that Kim, during his conversations with South Korean officials, has privately expressed a genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons and missiles.

FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump holds up document that he and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un signed at their summit on Sentosa Island, June 12, 2018, in Singapore.

Both Koreas are calling for a declaration by the end of the year, but the USA wants to see more concrete steps toward denuclearization first, and some analysts say a declaration could put pressure on the withdraw its troops from South Korea.

"I believe finding an intersecting point to restart the dialogue and let denuclearization to take place promptly, is the role we [South Korea] must serve in the middle", Moon said. Chung also said Kim wishes to realize denuclearization before the end of Trump's first term. "On Monday, the White House announced that, in response to the "very warm, very positive" note from Kim, Trump was now ordering his staff to plan for a second Trump-Kim summit meeting".

"The United States would want to have a solid roadmap, but the North has been avoiding it and instead unilaterally taking what it calls denuclearisation measures that fall far short of US expectations", said Cho Tae-yong, a former South Korean deputy presidential national security advisor and nuclear negotiator. This concern was pooh-poohed by presidential adviser Moon.

The first inter-Korean summit of 2018, a sunny spectacle in late April, reduced war fears on the peninsula.

North Korea has demanded USA security guarantees as key conditions for its disarmament, and ending the war is an integral element of that.

Pompeo's remarks came a day after U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the independent UN panel should release the original report, which cited a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products for North Korea in violation of UN sanctions. According to a diplomatic source he planned to meet with South Korea's chief nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon to discuss the talks on North Korea he held in Beijing and Tokyo.

Steps by North and South Korea to improve their relations are running parallel to a bid by the United States and its allies to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

The rival Koreas on Friday opened their first liaison office near their tense border to facilitate better communication and exchanges ahead of their leaders' summit in Pyongyang next week.

In his opinion, the bulk of discussions will focus on military issues.

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