The two Koreas today restored their hotlines that the North severed months ago, with Pyongyang urging Seoul to step up efforts to improve family members after criticising what it called double requirements over weapons development.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed his willingness which North Korea reduce off in early August in protest against joint South Korea-US navy exercises, just days after reopening them for the first time in a year.
Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency had said the phone links would be reconnected today at 9.00 am (0000 GMT).
The South confirmed that twice-daily regular communication was once restarted on time by military hotlines and others run via the Unification Ministry, without for the navy channel set up on a global network for merchant ships.
The hotlines are a rare tool to bridge the rivals, however, it used to be uncertain whether their reconnection would facilitate any significant return to talks aimed at dismantling the North’s nuclear and missile programmes in return for US sanctions relief.
KCNA called for Seoul to fulfil its “tasks” to mend strained cross-border ties, repeating Kim’s speech last week that he had decided to recover the traces to help realise people’s hopes for a thaw and peace.
In that speech, Kim urged South Korea to abandon its “double standards” and “delusion” over the North’s self-defensive military things to do whilst developing its own weapons.
“The South Korean authorities need to make positive efforts to put the north-south ties on a proper tune and settle the important duties which must be prioritised to open up the bright prospect in the future,” KCNA said.
Hotlines reduce tensions
Seoul’s defence ministry said the hotlines have contributed to preventing surprising clashes and their reopening would hopefully lead to a considerable easing of military tension.
The Unification Ministry, accountable for inter-Korean affairs, expressed hopes that it would be able to resume dialogue soon on approaches to get better relations and foster peace.
In Washington, a US State Department spokesperson said it strongly supports inter-Korean cooperation, calling the reconnected lines “an important issue in creating an extra stable environment on the Korean Peninsula.”
Tension had flared because the hotlines have been severed, with North Korea warning of a security disaster and firing a series of new missiles, along with a hypersonic missile, an anti-aircraft missile, and a “strategic” cruise missile with potential nuclear capabilities.
The launches underlined how the remoted country has been continuously developing increasingly sophisticated weapons, elevating the stakes for stalled denuclearisation negotiations.
While accusing Washington of “hostile policy,” Pyongyang has said it is inclined to mend inter-Korean relations and consider another summit if Seoul drops double standards.
Analysts say the North’s carrot-and-stick method is aimed at securing global recognition as a nuclear weapons nation and riding a wedge between the United States and South Korea, counting on South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s eagerness to forge a diplomatic legacy before his time period ends in May.