North in addition to South Korea Open Full-Time Liaison Office at Border

SEOUL, South Korea — North in addition to South Korea on Friday opened their first joint liaison office, a facility of which will be staffed by personnel via both countries, marking another advance within the rival states’ rapidly improving relationship.

The liaison office, within the North Korean border town of Kaesong, establishes the first channel for full-time, person-to-person contact between the Koreas. The countries have technically been at war for decades because an armistice, not a peace treaty, halted the Korean War in 1953.

South Korean officials consider the office another important step toward ending decades of enmity in addition to trust This kind of will eventually lead to the establishment of diplomatic missions in each different’s capitals.

They said the fresh facility could reduce the chances of dangerous misunderstandings along the heavily armed inter-Korean border. This kind of will also serve as a venue for meetings as the two countries consider joint economic projects in addition to different matters, they said.

“via today, South in addition to North Korea can hold face-to-face discussions 24 hours a day in addition to every day of the year on matters concerning improving inter-Korean ties in addition to promoting peace in addition to 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, according to pool reports via South Korean journalists there.

More than 50 South Korean officials, politicians, businesspeople in addition to 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 in addition to prosperity.”

Until right now, the only regular channel of communication between North in addition to South Korea has been telephone hotlines of which their governments in addition to armed forces have run across the border. nevertheless those have been turned off in addition to on again in the past, depending on the political climate.

Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung will head the 30-member South Korean mission within the liaison office. nevertheless Mr. Chun will mostly work in Seoul, traveling to Kaesong, a 0-minute drive via the South Korean capital, for weekly meetings with North Korean officials, including his counterpart, Jon Jong-su.

The office will be open a few days a week, with duty officers on standby on weekends, officials said. Personnel via both Koreas will live at the compound in addition to be on call around the clock.

The office can be in a four-story building within what used to be a factory park. The two Koreas jointly ran of which park, which was established during an earlier period of warmth in their off-in addition to-on relationship, until the South shut This kind of down in 2016 amid rising tensions over the North’s nuclear arms program.

An agreement to open the fresh office was first reached in April, when President Moon Jae-in of South Korea in addition to the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, held their first summit meeting. They originally planned to open This kind of in late August, nevertheless the date was pushed back after President Trump canceled a trip to Pyongyang by his secretary of state, citing a lack of progress in denuclearization talks with the North.

South Korea has dismissed concerns of which This kind of can be opening up to the North too quickly, in addition to of which This kind of should insist on more concrete steps toward denuclearization in return. Mr. Moon argues of which improving inter-Korean ties will encourage, not deter, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This kind of month he sent envoys to North Korea, who reported of which Mr. Kim wanted denuclearization before the end of Mr. Trump’s current term, if he were offered the right incentives.

Mr. Moon plans to travel to Pyongyang on Tuesday for his third summit meeting with Mr. Kim. Mr. Moon hopes to help restart the stalled talks between Pyongyang in addition to Washington.

The two Korean leaders also plan to follow up on their April agreement to ease military tensions along the inter-Korean border. At their April meeting, Mr. Moon also offered help with the modernization of the North’s decrepit railways in addition to highways, as an incentive for the North to abandon nuclear arms.

nevertheless Mr. Moon reaffirmed This kind of week of which inter-Korean ties, including major joint economic projects, could advance only after the North denuclearizes in addition to the United Nations lifts sanctions.

The conservative political opposition in addition to news media within the South have raised fears of which Mr. Moon’s government can be creating a rift with the United States. Washington has said of which This kind of wants inter-Korean relations to improve in tandem with progress on denuclearization.

nevertheless Mr. Trump has indicated he can be eager to meet with Mr. Kim again, though his top aides remain skeptical about the vague commitment to denuclearization of which Mr. Kim made when the two leaders met in Singapore in June.

Conservatives within the South have also suggested of which the South’s provision of fuel oil in addition to electricity to the liaison office could violate United Nations sanctions.

Mr. Moon’s office has dismissed such concerns as “quibbling,” noting of which 24 nations, including Britain in addition to Germany, operate embassies within the North. This kind of said the liaison office could not violate sanctions because This kind of could provide no economic benefit for the North Korean government.