North Korean officials return to inter-Korean liaison office


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North Korean officials have returned to the inter-Korean liaison office, according to a Unification Ministry official on Monday, and things appear to be back to business as usual just days after Pyongyang’s abrupt announcement of the withdrawal of all its staff.

“The North Koreans said that they came down (to the liaison office) for the shift as usual,” the official said. 

(Yonhap)

On Friday, North Korea pulled out all staff from the joint liaison office in its border city of Kaesong, on instruction from a superior authority.

The North expressed unchanged commitment to run the office in accordance with the agreement signed by the leaders of two Koreas during their summit at Panmunjeom in April last year.

“The South and North Korean liaison representatives held a meeting in the morning and (the office) will continue to operate as usual,” the Unification Ministry official said.

Four to five North Korean working-level officials were working at the office Monday. There were some 10 officials on normal working days before last week’s abrupt announcement of the withdrawal.

Seoul had earlier said it would continue to staff the office, which was set up as a regular channel of communication between the two sides in order to facilitate close consultation between the authorities.

Last week, concerns mounted on a gloomy outlook for the resumption of stalled talks between the US and North Korea following Pyongyang’s surprise move that came a week after Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui threatened to pull out of nuclear negotiations with Washington.

Analysts said that North Korea stepped up pressure on Seoul to play a bigger role in persuading the US to move forward the stalled denuclearization talks,

In an apparent move to break the stalemate, US President Donald Trump said that he rescinded North Korea-related sanctions that the US Treasury Department planned on imposing.

“It was announced today by the US Treasury that additional large-scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea,” Trump tweeted Friday. “I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”

A second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in February in Hanoi ended without an agreement, reportedly after the US refused North Korean demands for sanctions relief.

By Park Han-na  (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)


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