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Inter-Korean hotlines restored after 55 days

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (KCNA-Yonhap)
Communication channels between South Korea and the North were restored Monday about two months after the North unilaterally cut off the hotlines in August in protest over the joint military drills between Seoul and Washington. 

The Unification Ministry confirmed that liaison officials from the two Koreas held a phone call via a cross-border channel at 9 a.m. on Monday -- a call that had gone unanswered previously. The two sides also had contact via a military hotline, according to the Defense Ministry. 

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency had earlier announced that the North would reconnect the channels with the South at 9 a.m, and called for Seoul to fulfill its “tasks,” without specifying further. 

“The South Korean authorities should make positive efforts to put the North-South ties on a right track and settle the important tasks which must be prioritized to open up the bright prospect in the future, bearing deep in mind the meaning of the restoration of communication lines,” it said. 

The government here welcomed the reopening, saying it “laid the ground” for restoring inter-Korean relations and stability on the Korean Peninsula. 

“Through the stable management of the communication lines and swift resumption of talks, the government hopes to start substantive discussions on implementing agreements between the two Koreas, improving inter-Korean relations and making peace on the Korean Peninsula,” the Unification Ministry said in a statement. 

The reopening comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said last Thursday he was willing to restore the severed inter-Korean hotlines in October. 

North Korea stopped using the hotlines in early August in protest of the joint military drills between South Korea and the US, just days after reactivating them for the first time in a year.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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