Hopes rise over unification
Koreas open joint liaison office in North; Moon seeks to play ‘chief negotiator’ between Kim, Trump
KAESONG, Sept 14: 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.
The neighbors are also discussing reconnecting railways and roads, and lessening guard posts along the heavily militarized border. 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 US efforts to secure concrete progress towards Pyongyang's denuclearisation have stalled.
Moon will fly to the North's capital on Tuesday to meet with Kim as he seeks to rekindle the process. Moon's trip will mark 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 Trump.
Next week's inter-Korean summit will test whether Moon can pull off his role of mediator and salvage stalled nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington.
Moon will discuss ways to achieve that goal with Kim, seeking to engineer a proposal that combines a concrete framework for North Korea's denuclearization and a joint declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War.
The South Korean scheme would call for Pyongyang to promise to reveal or declare its nuclear and missile facilities, followed by a joint end-of-war declaration, two sources familiar with the issue said. North Korea would then provide an actual list of the sites for verification and eventual decommissioning by international inspectors, said the sources who were not authorized to speak publicly.
Pyongyang and Washington have been at odds over whether the North's denuclearization or declaring a formal end to the war should come first.
The Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving U.S.-led U.N. forces including South Korea technically still at war with the North.
"The deadlock resulted from mutual demands that the other side take action first, and I think we can surely find a point of contact," Moon Jae-in told a meeting on Thursday with advisers on the summit.
"One of the roles we should play in the middle is to find the point of contact and present it, and expedite dialogue again to accelerate the denuclearization process." -REUTERS