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, calling the office “another symbol of peace jointly created by the South and the North”.
The nuclear-armed North’s chief delegate Ri Son Gwon responded in kind, calling it a “substantial fruit nourished by the people of the north and south”.
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 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.