By HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea and South Korea re-established a blocked communications hotline after weeks of disruption in a small and fragile reconciliation step on Monday, as the North struggles to win foreign concessions with a mixture of conciliatory gestures and missile tests.
Liaison officials from the two Koreas exchanged messages via a cross-border communication channel on Monday morning, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said.
The two Koreas are expected to reestablish other communication channels crossing their tense border later Monday, as they have both previously expressed their intention to reopen them.
Telephone and fax channels – which rival Koreas use to hold meetings, organize border crossings and avoid accidental clashes – have largely been dormant for more than a year. Communications were briefly re-established for about two weeks this summer, but North Korea then refused to exchange messages again after Seoul held annual military exercises with Washington that it sees as a repeat invasion.
Political cartoons about world leaders
“The South Korean authorities must make positive efforts to put North-South relations back on track and to settle the important tasks which must be given priority in order to open up good prospects in the future, bearing in mind the meaning of restoration of communication. lines, ”the official North Korean Central News Agency said before the hotline’s restoration.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said the reconnection of the hotline laid the foundation for re-establishing ties between the two Koreas and stability on the Korean peninsula. A ministry statement said Seoul hopes the two Koreas will resume talks soon to discuss how to implement previous cooperation agreements and establish peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his willingness to reactivate the channels of communication, saying he wanted to fulfill the desire of the Korean people to promote peace on the peninsula. But Kim urged Seoul to drop a “double-play attitude” and “hostile view” on North Korea’s recent missile tests and other developments, while rejecting US offers of dialogue as a cover-up. “cunning” of its hostility against North Korea.
Some experts say North Korea is trying to use South Korea’s desire to improve relations to pressure it to persuade the United States to relax punitive economic sanctions.
Regardless of its peace overtures, North Korea conducted a series of missile tests that were its first weapons launches in six months. Weapons tested include potentially nuclear-capable missiles that put South Korea and Japan, both of the United States’ key allies, within striking distance.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.