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February 17, 2019

Two Koreas open joint liaison office in North: pool report

Two Koreas open joint liaison office in North: pool report
'South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and the North's Kim Jong Un will hold their third summit this year in Pyongyang' - By: KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/File -

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, according to a pool report.

"This liaison office is another symbol of peace jointly created by the South and the North."

The building includes separate Northern and Southern offices and a joint conference room, and is intended to facilitate cross-border exchanges following the Panmunjom Summit between Moon and the North's leader Kim Jong Un, the unification ministry said.

Seoul and Pyongyang have sought to pursue joint projects in multiple fields since their April summit in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula, even as US efforts to secure concrete progress towards North Korea's denuclearisation have stalled.

Moon is due in the North's capital on Tuesday for a three-day visit, 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 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.

The North was "willing to denuclearise", 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".

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