US Says Denuclearization Talks Ongoing with N Korea

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The UNC approved a request for more than 100 South Korean government officials to visit the site on Friday, according to the statement.

Also on Friday, a liaison office aimed at keeping Pyongyang and Seoul in constant contact with each other opened in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, the South's Unification Ministry said. The office launched at the North Korean border town of Kaesong is the first of its kind since the Koreas were divided at the end of World War II.

The two Koreas previously communicated by fax and special telephone lines, which were often severed when their relations took a turn for the worse.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Russian Federation on Friday of actively working to undermine global sanctions on North Korea and said the enforcement of the steps was essential to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

"The inter-Korean joint liaison office is a channel for round-the-clock communication in the new era of peace", South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said in a congratulatory speech that was reported by a press pool at the scene.

"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.

Moon, who said he was speaking as an expert and not on behalf of the Seoul government, said he expects the South Korean president to place his focus on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and "play the role of facilitator or mediator between Pyongyang and Washington" and promote dialogue between the two countries.

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South Korean Vice-Minister of Unification Chun Hae-sung and vice-chairman of the CPRC Jon Jong Su have been appointed directors of the office.

President Moon "believes that improved inter-Korean relations have some role in facilitating US-DPRK (North Korea) talks and solving the North Korean nuclear problem", he said. But its operation was suspended in 2016 amid an escalating standoff over North Korea's long-range rocket launch.

US documents sent to the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea and obtained by AP cited 89 instances between January 1 and May 30 in which North Korean tankers likely delivered refined products "illicitly procured" via transfers from other ships at sea. Seoul officials said workers renovated some of the buildings used in the complex to use as the liaison office and the lodging facility.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will host South Korean President Moon Jae-in as the pair meet for their third inter-Korean summit September 18-20 in Pyongyang.

Next week's inter-Korean summit will test whether South Korean President Moon Jae-in can pull off his role of mediator and salvage stalled nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

Both Koreas are calling for a declaration by the end of the year, but the USA wants to see more concrete steps toward denuclearization first, and some analysts say a declaration could put pressure on the U.S.to withdraw its troops from South Korea.

High-profile politicians and businessmen are expected to accompany Moon to Pyongyang.

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