Koreas restore cross-border hotline after North's missile tests - GulfToday

Koreas restore cross-border hotline after North's missile tests


A South Korean officer makes a test call with a North Korean officer at an undisclosed location on Monday. AP

Gulf Today Report

North and South Korea restored their cross-border hotline on Monday; a step that Seoul said could help improve relations after Pyongyang sparked global concern with a string of missile tests in recent weeks.

North Korea restored dormant communication hotlines with South Korea in a small, fragile reconciliation step on Monday in an apparent hard push to win outside concessions with a mix of conciliatory gestures and missile tests.

The two sides resumed communications with officials exchanging their first phone call since August, days after the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting over the North Korean missile tests.


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It’s unclear how substantially the move will improve ties between the Koreas, as Pyongyang has a history of using the hotlines as a bargaining chip in dealings with Seoul. It often unilaterally suspended them before reactivating them when it needed better ties with Seoul.

Seoul's unification ministry confirmed the phone call on Monday morning between officials from the two rivals.

Kim Jong Un (left) and Moon Jae-in walk to the official summit Peace House in Panmunjom. File/AFP

"It's been a while and I'm very happy that the communication line has been restored," a South Korean official told his northern counterpart in footage provided to reporters by the ministry.

The South's defence ministry also confirmed that cross-border military communications have resumed.

"With the restoration of the South-North communication line, the government evaluates that a foundation for recovering inter-Korean relations has been provided," the unification ministry said in a statement.

"The government hopes... to swiftly resume dialogue and begin practical discussions for recovering inter-Korean relations."

North Korean liaison officers answered phone calls by their South Korean counterparts over a set of cross-border government and military channels on Monday morning for the first time in nearly two months.

"Long time no talk. We’re very pleased because the communication channels have been restored like this. We hope that South-North relations will develop into a new level,” a Seoul official said during a phone conversation with his North Korean counterpart over one channel, according to video released by South Korea’s Unification Ministry.

On a separate military channel, the Koreas exchanged information about fishing activities along their disputed westerns sea boundary — where several inter-Korean bloody naval battles have occurred in previous years — to prevent similar skirmishes, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said. A ministry statement said Seoul hopes the hotlines’ restoration would help reduce tensions on the peninsula.


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