September 13, 2018 13:24
South Korea will avoid violating international sanctions by providing direct electricity to a new liaison office that is to open in the North Korean border city of Kaesong rather than fuel for power generators, according to the Unification Ministry on Wednesday.
The opening ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, the ministry said. Some 50 to 60 officials from each side will participate in the opening ceremony. From the South Korean side they will include Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, lawmakers, government officials, academics, and civic group leaders.
From the North Korean side, they will include representatives to cross-border talks like Ri Son-gwon, the chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland. The ministry said, "The opening of the liaison office will allow round-the-clock communication between the two Koreas."
About 30 South Korean staff will stay there on a permanent basis, together with about 15 to 20 North Korean officials. The government is going to earmark W8.3 billion in next year's budget for the operation of the liaison office (US$1=W1,129).
The U.S. initially blocked the opening, which was scheduled for last month, warning that shipments of materials and oil from South Korea could violate international sanctions. But electricity supply is a different matter.
"We were at odds with the U.S. over shipments of bunker-C oil for power generation there, but the problem was solved because we decided to supply electricity instead," a ministry official said.
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