Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Koreas open joint liaison office

At summit South Korea’s Moon seeks to play ‘chief negotiator’ between Kim Trump US officials know North Korea won’t give up nukes — but Trump keeps getting tricked by Kim’s nice letters: report
Ellis Copeland | 17 September, 2018, 11:27

North and South Korea will open a joint liaison office on the North's side of the heavily militarized border on Friday, a South Korean official said, as hopes rise for progress in stalled denuclearization talks at a summit next week. And it said North Korea is violating sanctions by transferring coal at sea and flouting an arms embargo and financial sanctions. "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".

They will deal with an equal number of North Korean officials stationed at the office to discuss various inter-Korean issues, exchange messages from their capitals and facilitate civilian exchange programmes, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.

That would provide a starting point for establishing a timeline for denuclearization, reduce concerns over North Korea's intent and make it clearer that the North bears the greater responsibility in the efforts to resolve the nuclear crisis, Cha said.

"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.

The opening of the liaison office is a sign that even if talks between the North and the United States are not moving forward, the two Koreas seem determined to develop closer ties, says BBC Seoul correspondent Laura Bicker.

A presidential office spokesman said after the facility opened, "there is a stout bridge connecting two Koreas".

The statement did not name any specific countries, but U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley on September 13 accused Russian Federation of altering an independent United Nations report to cover up Moscow's alleged violation of the sanctions.

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Kim has been eager to continue negotiations with Trump for the ensuring of security guarantees from Washington and the relaxation of the economic sanctions that have dealt a heavy blow to North Korea's economy, analysts say.

The Security Council is to meet on September 17 to discuss introduction of sanctions on North Korea at Washington's request.

The wave of optimism that surrounded the first two inter-Korean summits in April and May and the Singapore meeting between Trump and Kim in June conveniently overlooked disagreements about what exactly Kim had committed to.

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

Pompeo said North Korea is also evading sanctions by smuggling coal by sea and across borders, by using cyber thefts and other criminal activities, and by keeping workers in some countries that he didn't name.

The resumption of the Kaesong park and other dormant inter-Korean cooperation projects won't likely happen anytime soon because US -led global sanctions on North Korea remain in place.

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