North and South Korea open first joint liaison office on their border

North and South Korea on Friday opened their first joint liaison office, a facility that will be staffed by personnel from both countries, marking another advance in the rival states’ rapidly improving relationship. The liaison office, in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, establishes the first channel for full-time, person-to-person contact between the Koreas.

South Korean officials consider the office another important step toward ending decades of enmity and hope it will eventually lead to the establishment of diplomatic missions in each other’s capitals. They said the new facility would reduce the chances of dangerous misunderstandings along the heavily armed inter-Korean border. It will also serve as a venue for meetings as the two countries consider joint economic projects and other matters, they said.

Until now, the only regular channel of communication between North and South Korea has been telephone hotlines that their governments and armed forces have run across the border. But those have been turned off and on again over the years, depending on the political climate.

South Korean President Moon plans to travel to Pyongyang on Tuesday for his third summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, during which time Mr. Moon hopes to discuss restarting the stalled talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

[The New York Times]

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