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N.K. deputy head of inter-Korean liaison office returns to work after weeks of absence

North Korea 11:54 April 22, 2019

SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean deputy head of an inter-Korean liaison office has returned to work after weeks of absence, the unification ministry said Monday, as worries are growing over slumping cross-border exchanges amid stalled nuclear talks between the North and the United States.

"We have confirmed that a North Korean deputy head of the office is currently working there normally," unification ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min told a regular press briefing.

Lee declined to name the North Korean official, but sources said Kim Kwang-song, one of two deputies to the North's liaison office chief Jon Jong-su, is staffing the office located in the country's border town of Kaesong.

Kim returned to the office after the North's brief withdrawal of all its staff on March 22. The North recently stationed an official temporarily tasked with the day-to-day operation of the office.

Kim's return to work came amid a protracted lull in the weekly meeting between South Korean Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung and his North Korean counterpart Jon, who serve as co-heads of the office.

The weekly meeting has not been held since 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. It was last held on Feb. 22.

The liaison office opened last September to facilitate inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation in accordance with an agreement reached by President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim at their first summit in April last year.


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