North and South Korea set up liaison office to 'talk 24/7'

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

The office was launched in the North Korean border town of Kaesong and is the first of its kind since the division of the Korean Peninsula that followed World War II.

"A new chapter in history is open here today", South Korean unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon told a ceremony, according to a pool report.

"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.

South and North Korean officials attend an opening ceremony of a joint liaison office in Kaesong, North Korea, on September 14, 2018. They will deal with an equal number of North Korean officials stationed at the office to discuss various inter-Korean issues, exchange messages from their capitals and facilitate civilian exchange programs, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.

"The U.S.is totally mistaken if it seeks to gain anything from us through preposterous falsehoods and highhandedness", Han Yong Song at the Foreign Ministry's Institute for American Studies said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

Kaesong is where the Koreas' now-stalled jointly run factory complex is located.

The park, once the most striking symbol of inter-Korean cooperation, has been closed since February 2016 when tension on the peninsula spiked after North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test.

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The Justice Department announced charges last week against Park Jin Hyok, accusing him of hacking on behalf of the North Korea military, and of being involved in an attempt to steal $1 billion from the Bangladesh Bank in 2016, as well as in the spread of the WannaCry 2.0 virus that affected more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries past year.

It comes days ahead of the third summit meeting between the countries' leaders this year.

The New Yorker's Susan Glasser recently talked with several former US government officials and allied diplomats who have received briefings from Trump administration officials about North Korean denuclearization efforts, and they've all come away believing that leader Kim Jong-un has shown no intention of relinquishing his country's nuclear weapons. Seoul officials said workers renovated some of the buildings used in the complex to use as the liaison office and the lodging facility.

Since US President Donald Trump and Mr Kim met at a historic meeting in June, little progress has been made on North Korean denuclearisation. He's also dismantled his nuclear and rocket-engine testing sites.

The UNC controls the southern part of the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone, a 2.5-mile wide buffer zone that has divided the peninsula since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.

Moon is to fly to Pyongyang next Tuesday for a three-day trip.

South Korea's presidential office said separately that it will hold working-level talks with North Korea on Friday to prepare for next week's inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.

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