US calls special meeting at UN as countries ‘undermine’ NK sanctions

US-led command approves South Korean border crossings into North Korea

This undated photo released on Sept, 12, 2018, from South Korea Unification Ministry via Newsis, shows a liaison office building between South and North Korea in Kaesong, North Korea.

The office's opening at the North Korean border town of Kaesong is the latest in a series of reconciliatory steps the Koreas have taken this year.

The rival Koreas on Friday opened their first liaison office near their tense border to facilitate better communication and exchanges ahead of their leaders' summit in Pyongyang next week.

"Their view is that North Korea is not serious about denuclearizing", one official told Glasser.

South Korea will station around 20 officials there, while the North will deploy 15-20 officials to the office.

Ri Son Gwon, chairman of North Koreas's Committee for Peaceful Reunification, said during the ceremony that the office would help the Koreas have "candid conversations" and further build their ties, according to South Korean media pool reports from the site.

The co-heads will meet every week.

The building includes separate Northern and Southern offices and a joint conference room, and is meant to facilitate cross-border exchanges following the Panmunjom Summit between Moon and the North's leader Kim Jong Un, the unification ministry said.

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"With the opening of the office, both sides are able to discuss any issues arising in their relations in a speedy and heart-to-heart manner and figure out necessary countermeasures", he said in a speech.

The office was widely expected to be launched in August, but its opening was delayed amid Washington's anxiety that inter-Korean cooperation is progressing faster than its stalemated denuclearization talks with the North.

"What the South and North now needs is not just another joint declaration, but finding ways to substantially develop relations", Moon said in a Cabinet meeting Tuesday.

Vice minister-level officials from North and South respectively will head the new office and will also serve as permanent negotiation representatives at weekly meetings, Baik said.

Chun told reporters that the main job of the liaison office in the coming weeks would be to discuss follow-up measures arising from the upcoming inter-Korean summit.

The office is at the site of the Kaesong industrial complex, where for about a decade, South Korean companies ran production lines staffed by North Korean workers at the industrial park. The Seoul government said that their joining has nothing to do with efforts to resume the operation of the park. But the North for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops from South Korea and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

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

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