North Korea and South Korea reopen hotline: ‘Long time no talk’
North Korea and South Korea reopened communication hotlines on Monday, a move that may be used by the North as leverage in future talks.
North Korean liaison officers and their South Korean counterparts conversed on the phone through cross-border and military channels on Monday, marking the first such communications in almost two months, according to The Associated Press.
The hotlines — which includes phone and fax channels — are reportedly used to schedule meetings, plan border crossings and dodge unintentional conflicts.
“Long time no talk. We’re very pleased because the communication channels have been restored like this,” a South Korean official told his North Korean counterpart during a phone call on Monday, according to the AP.
“We hope that South-North relations will develop into a new level,” the official added.
On a different channel, Korean officials reportedly discussed fishing activities in the westerns sea boundary — where a number of violent naval battles between the two countries have taken place — and traded information regarding how best to avert such clashes.
Seoul is hoping that the reopened lines of communication help to abate tensions that are brewing on the peninsula, the AP reported, citing a statement from the ministry.
On Sept. 26, officials in the South called on the North to restore the communication link between the two nations. One day before that, Kim Yo Jong — the powerful sister of Kim Jong Un — said her country would be open to taking part in another summit with the South.
While it is uncertain what effect the opened lines of communication will have on the relationship between the Koreas, it is possible that the North will use the reopened hotlines as leverage in future talks with the South, according to the AP. Pyongyang has in the past closed the hotlines, only to reopen them when it is seeking improved relations with Seoul.
The restoration of the hotlines comes amid a stalemate between the two Koreas and their international allies when it comes to nuclear talks. The U.S. has urged the North to rejoin the table for such discussions, but Pyongyang has said sanctions must be lifted before conversations restart.
The North is also angry that South Korea held its annual military drills with the U.S., which Pyongyang has said are rehearsals for invasions, according to the AP.
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