North and South Korea restore clogged cross-border hotline
Asia Pacific Focus

North and South Korea restore clogged cross-border hotline

North and South Korea have restored cross-border communications, a move that the two countries said was the element of an effort to rebuild trust.

The progress came after a year since the hotline was cut off.

The decision was laid forth in statements by KCNA – the North’s state media agency – and South Korea’s presidential Blue House.

KCNA said all inter-Korean communication channels were opened at 10 am on Tuesday (01:00 GMT) in compliance with an agreement between the countries’ two leaders.

Similarly, the Blue House said the restoration of communication lines is to have a “positive impact on the development and improvement of South-North relations”.

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KCNA welcomed the “positive effects” of the decision and said that it represented “a big stride in recovering the bilateral trust and promoting reconciliation”.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have exchanged several letters since April and agreed to reconnect the hotline –  Park Soo-Hyun, Moon’s press secretary, said.

“The two leaders have explored several ways to recover relations by exchanging letters on multiple occasions, and agreed to repair severed hotlines as the first step for that process,” Park said. “They have agreed to regain trust as soon as possible and further progress on relations again.”

Moon, in the exchanges, pinned high hopes on US President Joe Biden to restart negotiations pointed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.

North Korea cut the hotlines in June 2020 after cross-border ties soured in a failed second summit in February 2019 between Kim and former US President Donald Trump. Moon had offered to mediate back then.

The move was accompanied by the destruction of a joint liaison office inside the North – set up in 2018 to foster better ties – stooping relations between the rivals to a low point. Seoul’s defence ministry also confirmed that a military hotline was tested on Tuesday and now, twice-daily regular communication would resume.

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