Seoul seeks video conference setup with Pyongyang

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Seoul seeks video conference setup with Pyongyang

Seoul will seek to establish a video conference system with Pyongyang so that the two governments can keep an open line of communication for face-to-face talks through the Covid-19 pandemic, the Unification Ministry said Thursday.
 
During a closed briefing Thursday, an official from the Unification Ministry told reporters, "The two Koreas plan to proceed with consultations concerning the use of a video conference system or face-to-face talks in light of the Covid-19 situation."
 
He added that the current proposal is that the two governments use an inter-Korean video conference method built using their own video conference equipment.
 
"There is no plan at this point to secure or support a separate budget for the installation of the North's video conference facilities," he added.
 
The official explained that separate cable installation would not be necessary because the two Koreas can connect some of the previously established inter-Korean communication lines to their own video conference equipment.
 
Although he mentioned that the topics for discussion using the proposed video conference system remained to be decided, the official said that the subjects could include "matters already agreed upon by the two countries, concerns that require discussion and urgent issues that need quick resolution."
 
When asked if there was any truth to a Wednesday report by Reuters that the two governments were discussing the re-establishment of the Inter-Korean Liaison Office, the official said that no such proposal had been discussed in recent communications.
 
An Inter-Korean Liaison Office had previously been standing in Kaesong, near the now-shuttered joint industrial complex where South Korean companies hired North Korean workers for their factories, providing a direct communication channel between the two governments, it was unilaterally blown up by the North in June 2020 after the North expressed displeasure with anti-Pyongyang leaflet dispatches by North Korean defectors across the border.
 
The liaison office was established in September 2018, pursuant to the Panmunjom Declaration signed during the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit in Panmunjom by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on April 27, 2018.
 
During its brief existence as de facto embassy in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the liaison office was jointly staffed by officials from both governments. The North was represented by Jon Jong-su, vice chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, while the Chun Hae-sung, vice minister of the Ministry of Unification, represented South Korean interests.

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]
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