Koreans talk about hotline restored after North Korean missile tests

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South Korea says two Koreas re-establish blocked communication channel after disruption in small reconciliation step

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea reestablished dormant direct lines of communication with South Korea on Monday in a small and fragile reconciliation step in a seemingly difficult attempt to win foreign concessions with a mix of gestures conciliatory and missile testing.

It’s nuclear how much this move will improve relations between the Koreas, as Pyongyang has a habit of using hotlines as a bargaining chip in relations with Seoul. He often suspended them unilaterally and reactivated them when he needed better ties with Seoul.

North Korean liaison officers responded to phone calls from their South Korean counterparts through a set of cross-border government and military channels for the first time in nearly two months.

“It’s been a long time since we last spoke. We are very happy because the communication channels have been restored like this. We hope that South-North relations will move to a new level,” said an official from Seoul during a telephone conversation with his North Korean counterpart on a channel, according to a video released by the South Korean Unification Ministry, he was not carrying the North Korean voice.

On a separate military channel, the Koreans exchanged information on fishing activities along their disputed western maritime border – where several bloody inter-Korean naval battles have taken place in previous years – to prevent similar skirmishes, the said. Seoul Ministry of Defense. A ministry statement said Seoul hopes the restoration of hotlines will help ease tensions on the peninsula.

Hotlines are telephone and fax channels Koreans use to arrange meetings, arrange border crossings, and avoid accidental clashes. They have largely been dormant for more than a year as the North has cut them down in protest at campaigns to distribute leaflets to South Korean civilians. 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 Pyongyang sees as a repeat invasion.

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. Kim’s influential sister Kim Yo Jong said earlier that North Korea was open to resuming talks and cooperative measures if the conditions were met.

Some experts question the sincerity of North Korea’s openness, as it came as North Korea renewed its missile tests after six months. Kim Yo Jong also said South Korea must abandon “double-play standards” and a “hostile point of view” if it is serious about improving relations, a position widely echoed by his brother.

Experts say North Korea is trying to use South Korea’s desire to improve relations to pressure it to convince the United States to ease punitive economic sanctions. Others say North Korea wants South Korea not to criticize its ballistic missile testing, which is banned by UN Security Council resolutions, as part of its efforts to gain international recognition as a nuclear weapon state.

“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.

It is not clear whether the North will get what it wants from its lobbying campaign. Kim Jong Un has said he will not resume talks with the United States unless it abandons its “hostile policy” towards the North, an apparent reference to sanctions. The United States, for its part, has offered “anywhere, anytime” talks with no preconditions attached.

Nuclear diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington collapsed in early 2019 over disputes over exchanging sanctions relief for denuclearization measures. Despite its recent round of weapons testing, North Korea still maintains a 2018 self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile testing that directly threatens the Americas, an indication that it does not want to scuttle the outlook. future diplomacy with the United States


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