Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Two Koreas reopen hotlines in a bid to mend ties

Reuters: The two Koreas on Monday (October 4) restored their hotlines that the North severed months ago, with Pyongyang urging Seoul to step up efforts to improve relations after criticizing what it called double standards over weapons development.

Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency had said the telephone links would be reconnected on Monday at 9:00 a.m. (0000 GMT).

The South confirmed that twice-daily regular communication was restarted on time via military hotlines and others run by the Unification Ministry, except for the navy channel set up on an international network for merchant ships.

The Unification Ministry, responsible for inter-Korean affairs, expressed hopes that it would be able to resume dialogue soon on ways to recover relations and foster peace. Seoul’s defense ministry said the hotlines have contributed to preventing unexpected clashes and their reopening would hopefully lead to a substantive easing of military tension.

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In Washington, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said it strongly supports inter-Korean cooperation, calling the reconnected lines “an important component in creating a more stable environment on the Korean Peninsula.”

Tension had flared since the hotlines were severed, with North Korea warning of a security crisis and firing a series of new missiles, including a hypersonic missile, an anti-aircraft missile, and a “strategic” cruise missile with potential nuclear capabilities.

The launches underlined how the isolated country has been constantly developing increasingly sophisticated weapons, raising the stakes for stalled denuclearisation negotiations.

While accusing Washington of “hostile policy,” Pyongyang has said it is willing to mend inter-Korean relations and consider another summit if Seoul drops double standards.

Analysts say the North’s carrot-and-stick approach is aimed at securing international recognition as a nuclear weapons state and driving 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 term ends in May.

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