Seoul spends $3 million on liaison office in Kaesong

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Seoul spends $3 million on liaison office in Kaesong

South Korea will spend about 3.5 billion won ($3.1 million) from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund this year to finance the operation of an inter-Korean liaison office set to open in the North Korean border city of Kaesong later this month, government officials said Thursday.

The plan to earmark 3.47 billion won for the 2018 operation of the liaison office was approved by the 296th meeting of the Inter-Korea Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council, officials at the Ministry of Unification said.

The council conducted its deliberation on the spending plan Aug. 6-14, they added.

As part of the inter-Korean summit agreement reached on April 27, Seoul and Pyongyang are holding last-minute discussions to open the liaison office this month in the now-closed inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong.

The newly approved money will cover the office’s basic expenses and facility maintenance, in addition to expenditures needed for inter-Korean liaison business.

“Inter-Korean liaison business refers to supporting communications and consultations between South and North Korean officials about forestation cooperation, new economic projects and inter-Korean joint studies on road and railway connections,” a ministry official said.

Facility repairs and improvement have been under way since July 2 and the South started to supply power to the Kaesong complex Tuesday to prepare for the trial operation of the liaison office.

The council last month approved spending of 86 million won on the renovation of the liaison office.

Another ranking official at the unification ministry said discussions are also underway with the North on the continued supply of the South’s electric power to the liaison office after its opening.

Asked if power will continue to be supplied to the liaison office under the current method after its opening, the official said, “Discussions are being made in that direction.”

Meanwhile, South and North Korea fully restored their military communication line on the eastern part of the peninsula Wednesday, Seoul’s defense ministry said, in a step to build confidence and reduce cross-border tensions.

The complete restoration of fax and phone connections was part of an agreement from June’s inter-Korean military talks, the first such meeting in more than a decade.

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