South Korea on Wednesday brushed off concerns that the recent resumption of tap water supply to a liaison office in North Korea violates global sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile provocations.
A local daily newspaper reported earlier that the Seoul government recently resumed operation of water purification facilities in the North's border town of Kaesong and started to supply tap water to the office opened by the two Koreas in mid-September. It added that the water is also being provided to North Koreans living nearby.
"Providing materials, equipment and electricity along with the utilization of related facilities is to ensure smooth operation of the liaison office and convenience for the personnel there and it has nothing to do with granting any economic benefits to North Korea," Baik Tae-hyun, unification ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing.
"This does not compromise the purpose of the sanctions but rather is expected to contribute to fostering denuclearization negotiations by maintaining round-the-clock communications channels through the liaison office," he added.
South and North Korea launched the liaison office in Kaesong on Sept. 14 in a follow up to the summit agreement their leaders reached in April to support cross-border exchanges and cooperation.
Its opening, however, has raised suspicion that Seoul might be seeking to resume the operation of a now-suspended industrial complex in the same town.
The Kaesong complex was hailed as a successful inter-Korean economic cooperation as it combines South Korea's capital with North Korea's cheap labor. Its operation came to a stop in 2016 amid tensions over the North's nuclear and missile provocations, and the tap water supply was also cut off.
North Korea is currently under multi-layered sanctions which ban activity or economic cooperation that could benefit its regime.
The United States remains firm that no sanctions relief will be possible until the North completely gives up its nuclear weapons program. (Yonhap)