Koreas to discuss joint liaison office, war-torn families at high-level talks
SEOUL, South and North Korea are expected to discuss details about setting up a joint liaison office and reunions of war-torn families at this week's high-level talks, officials said Tuesday.
Senior officials from the ruling Democratic Party (DP), the government and the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae held a trilateral policy coordination meeting earlier in the day mainly to discuss follow-up steps to last month's inter-Korean summit.
"At the high-level talks (slated for Wednesday), the two sides are expected to discuss ways to establish a joint liaison office in North Korea and how to operate it," an official who attended the meeting said. "The issue of separated families will likely be dealt with as well."
President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed on April 27 to set up a joint communication office in the North's border city of Kaesong, home to a now-shuttered jointly run industrial complex.
The two sides also plan to hold reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War around Aug. 15, which marks Korea's liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.
In the follow-up to the summit, the two Koreas will hold high-level talks this week at the Peace House on the southern side of the border truce village of Panmunjom.
The participants in Tuesday's meeting agreed to work together for reforestation in North Korea and to hold a joint event to celebrate the first inter-Korean summit that was held on June 15, 2000, Park Beom-kye, chief spokesman for the DP, told a press briefing.
Details have not been fixed, but both sides are in consultations on holding a joint summit anniversary at Panmunjom, according to officials.
From 2003-2008, the two Koreas held summit celebration events in Seoul and Pyongyang. If realized, such an event would be held for the first time in 10 years.
"Participants in (Tuesday's) meeting shared the need to carry out follow-ups to the summit in an orderly, calm and speedy manner. They also agreed to closely cooperate in that process," the spokesman Park said.
They also agreed that the National Assembly needs to ratify the joint summit declaration for its successful implementation, he noted.
At the meeting, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said his Cabinet will be working calmly and solidly to back up the peace agreement that the two Koreas worked out in last month's summit.
"The Cabinet will be working calmly and solidly within the framework put together by the leaders," he said, adding that the government will immediately carry out inter-Korean projects that can be implemented right away and seek consultation with the North on projects that need consultation.
Lee said the government will take a phased approach to issues related to sanctions and other issues related to the U.S.-North Korea summit.
Rep. Choo Mi-ae, leader of the ruling party, hailed North Korea's announcement of a plan to dismantle the country's Punggye-ri nuclear test site as a first step toward "complete denuclearization" of the communist nation.
"Next month's North Korea-U.S. summit will produce achievements going beyond imagination," she said. "The Moon Jae-in government gave people freedom and hope for the past year, and we will be working hard to give people peace and prosperity as a gift in the second year."
Choo also said peace is directly related to the economy, people's livelihoods and welfare.
At the trilateral meeting, the officials also raised the need to take bold steps to boost job growth and tackle economic risks.
"The local economy is on the recovery track, but job markets still remain stagnant. We should not let down our guard against economic risk factors at home and abroad, including a U.S. rate hike and weak growth of emerging economies," the DP spokesman said.
Prime Minister Lee said the government will make full preparations to execute the pending supplementary budget as soon as it passes through the National Assembly.
Source: Yonhap News Agency