August 10, 2018 12:31
South Korea is expected to dispatch a large permanent staff of 25 to 30 people to the cross-border liaison office that will open in the former Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea this month.
A government official said staffers will be picked up from the Unification Ministry and other agencies. "The number will be in the double digits," a Unification Ministry official said. That is a larger staff than that of most of South Korea's overseas missions.
There is speculation that the move is a first step to establishing a permanent mission on Pyongyang that could grow into a full embassy depending on developments in cross-border relations.
The leaders of the two Koreas agreed to set up the liaison office at their summit on April 27. Staffed by officials from both sides, it aims to promote cross-border relations and civilian exchange and cooperation.
The grand opening ceremony of the office is slated for Aug. 17, but it depends on whether South Korea can win exemption from U.S.-led sanctions against North Korea to bring equipment and build facilities there.
Asked whether the U.S. is willing to grant them, a ministry official told reporters, "Everything is going forward without a hitch in our goal to open in August." He added Seoul is "negotiating with Washington."
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