North, South liaison chiefs don’t meet for ninth week

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North, South liaison chiefs don’t meet for ninth week

A weekly meeting of the liaison office chiefs of the two Koreas failed to take place for the ninth consecutive week on Friday on the eve of the first anniversary of last year’s summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“The two Koreas have agreed not to hold the weekly meeting today in consideration of various factors,” Lee Eugene, the Unification Ministry’s deputy spokeswoman, told a regular press briefing without elaborating further.

When the two Koreas launched the liaison office last September in the North’s border town of Kaesong, they agreed to hold a meeting of its co-heads every week, mostly on Fridays, to discuss cross-border issues.

The weekly meeting, however, has not been held since before the Hanoi summit in late February between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump, which ended without a deal due to differences over how to match Pyongyang’s denuclearization steps with Washington’s sanctions relief.

The last weekly meeting was held on Feb. 22.

Inter-Korean relations have warmed significantly since last year, but further improvement has stalled due to the lack of progress in denuclearization talks between the United States and the North.

North Korea has recently stepped up its criticism of the South, urging Seoul to push for inter-Korean projects regardless of sanctions.

On Thursday, North Korea impugned South Korea for holding a joint military drill with the United States.

On Saturday, South Korea plans to hold a ceremony at the border village of Panmunjom to mark the first anniversary of Moon’s first summit with Kim.

But North Korean officials are unlikely to attend the event, the ministry spokeswoman said.

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