US Says Denuclearization Talks Ongoing with N Korea

At summit South Korea’s Moon seeks to play ‘chief negotiator’ between Kim Trump

The move is a follow-up on an agreement that the leaders of the two Koreas reached in their April summit to run such an office on hopes that the office will serve as a communication channel to help facilitate inter-Korean cooperation on various fronts.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been cautious on warming inter-Korean ties without progress on North Korean denuclearization, amid concern that South Korean President Moon Jae In may take measures that violate United Nations resolutions imposed on the North.

The Koreas so far have been using telephone and fax-like communication channels when they want to arrange talks and exchange messages.

The Koreas will be able to "directly discuss issues 24 hours, 365 days", Seoul's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said.

"We'll sit face to face, exchange our thoughts fast and accurately and put our heads together to resolve hard matters", he said in remarks distributed by his office.

"This liaison office is another symbol of peace jointly created by the South and the North".

Top unification officials from both countries will head the office, which will be staffed by around 20 officials from each country.

The office will be co-headed by Vice South Korean Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung and a deputy head of Ri's committee.

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The statement did not name any specific countries, but U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley on September 13 accused Russian Federation of altering an independent United Nations report to cover up Moscow's alleged violation of the sanctions.

Seoul and Pyongyang on Friday began operation of a joint liaison office at the DPRK's now-shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC).

On Thursday, Washington imposed sanctions on a China-based technology firm, its North Korean chief executive and a Russian subsidiary, accusing them of moving illicit funding to North Korea in violation of US sanctions. Seoul officials said workers renovated some of the buildings used in the complex to use as the liaison office and the lodging facility.

Kim and Moon issued at their first summit on April 27 the Panmunjeom Declaration calling for "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and efforts to declare a formal end to the Korean War by the end of this year.

The office opening comes just prior to the third summit between Kim and Moon in Pyongyang next week, from September 18 to 20. He has also dismantled his nuclear and rocket-engine testing sites.

The sanctions come at a time when the U.S.is maintaining pressure on the North Korean government in its negotiations to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Moon heads to Pyongyang on Tuesday facing lingering questions over his claim that Kim, during his conversations with South Korean officials, has privately expressed a genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons and missiles.

The office, on the North's side of the militarised border, will be staffed by up to 20 people from each side.

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