09/30/2005, 00.00
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Seoul and Pyongyang set up Joint Office for Economic Cooperation

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young

Seoul (AsiaNews) – South and North Korea will open the first-ever permanent Joint Office for Economic Cooperation on October 25 in the North Korean border town of Kaesong where an inter-Korean industrial complex is located, South Korea's Unification Ministry announced.

The opening ceremony will coincide with the start of the 11th round of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee at the same venue, Vice Unification Minister Rhee Bong-jo told reporters.

The Office will be used by 16 South Korean officials, who will work with their 12 North Korean counterparts.  It will provide guidance on trade and investment opportunities in the North and arrange business meetings between the two Koreas.

"We expect the Office to upgrade the institutionalization of economic cooperation and boost direct bilateral trade, as it allows permanent consultation between South and North Korea," Rhee said.

At the opening ceremony, which will be attended by some 170 South Korean officials, businessmen and bankers, the North Koreans will hold individual consultation sessions.

"We think the investment presentation shows the North's efforts to attract more investment and boost the drive for economic cooperation with the South," Rhee added.

In the meantime, North Korea's National Economic Cooperation Federation will hold its first-ever investment road show for South Korean businessmen in Kaesong on Saturday. 

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