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(LEAD) Seoul says it will continue to push for inter-Korean projects

All Headlines 18:20 March 23, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with additional information in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will continue to push for joint projects with North Korea, officials here said Saturday, despite the North's withdrawal from a joint liaison office that may undermine their communication.

Under the decision made at a meeting headed by Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, the government will likely propose holding inter-Korean dialogue on various joint projects that include the connection of roads and railways between the two Koreas.

The meeting came one day after North Korea pulled out all its officials from the joint liaison office in its border town of Kaesong without offering any detailed reasons.

The ministry officials noted the military communication line was now the only dialogue channel between the divided Koreas.

"Today we only confirmed the military communication line continued to work," a ministry official said, adding the meeting did not discuss exactly how it could be used to ensure continued dialogue.

The liaison office opened in September under an agreement reached at an inter-Korean summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in April.

The countries have also set up a communication hotline between their leaders, but the line has yet to be put to use.

Meanwhile, the ministry said 25 South Korean officials are currently staying in Kaesong.

The number includes nine officials who work at the liaison office. The rest are support staff.

"There is nothing to suggest any threats to their safety," a ministry official said.

Pyongyang has said South Korean officials are free to stay and work at the liaison office.
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