Thursday, 11 January 2018

North and South Korea agree to restore military hotline

North and South Korea agreed Tuesday to restore a military hotline that had been closed for nearly two years, an official said, less than a week after a cross-border civilian phone link was reopened.

The North said during the rivals' first formal talks in more than two years that a line in the western part of the border had been put back into action, the South's vice unification minister Chun Hae-Sung told reporters in Seoul.

"Accordingly, our side decided to start using the military telephone line, starting 8am tomorrow," he said.

The telephone line was closed in February 2016 when Seoul announced a closure of the joint Kaesong industrial zone just north of the western border in a move that soured ties.
Another army hotline on the eastern side of the peninsula closed since 2008 -- when Seoul suspended a tourism programme to Mount Kumgang, near the North's east coast -- remained in operational for technical reasons.

Both army hotlines were established between 2002 to 2003 when the two Koreas enjoyed a rare moment of rapprochement under left-leaning South Korean presidents Kim Dae-Jung and Roh Moo-Hyun.

Tuesday's announcement came after the rivals resumed civilian communications through the border truce village of Panmunjom last Wednesday.
The civilian phone line, first established in 1971, was used to arrange inter-Korea government meetings to discuss key political and humanitarian affairs.

But it has suffered multiple disruptions, in line with the swings of volatile inter-Korea ties, having been suspended six times when tensions soared on the peninsula.
The two Koreas resumed communication last Wednesday after Seoul proposed high-level talks in response to an olive branch from the North's leader Kim Jong-Un.

Kim, in his New Year speech, offered to send a team to next month's Winter Olympics in the South in a rare move seen to aim at easing tensions on the flashpoint peninsula.

The overtures came after Kim in recent months traded threats of war and personal attacks with US President Donald Trump and staged a flurry of missile tests that sparked global alarm.

Source: Daily Monitor

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