North Korea reopens military hotline to South

2013-09-06 13:01
South Korean Defence Minister Lee Yang-Ho talks with frontline commanders through a hotline installed in the ministry's emergency duty room. (Yonhap, AFP)

South Korean Defence Minister Lee Yang-Ho talks with frontline commanders through a hotline installed in the ministry's emergency duty room. (Yonhap, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - North Korea on Friday reconnected a military hotline to the South that was cut earlier this year at the height of cross-border tensions, Seoul's government said.

The line - one of the two remaining inter-Korea military hotlines - was disabled in late March weeks after the North's third nuclear test and the following month a joint industrial zone was shut down.

The North in early March had cut off another line at the border truce village of Panmunjom before reopening it in July when relations showed signs of thawing.

Cross-border army hotlines in other parts of the country were severed years ago when tensions soared and left unrestored since then.

The latest re-establishment of the hotline paves the way for the reopening of the Kaesong industrial zone as it is largely used to provide security guarantees when South Korean businessmen and workers visit the complex.

The North made the first call to the South via the hotline since March on Friday morning, said Seoul's unification ministry, which handles cross-border affairs.

"Reception is still a bit shaky but at least the connection has been restored," a ministry spokesperson told AFP.

Technically at war

It followed an agreement on Thursday at a meeting of the inter-Korea committee tasked with reviving the shuttered Kaesong complex.

The ministry spokesperson said businessmen from the South would be able to visit the zone – 10km north of the border - to check on infrastructure and facilities left dormant for months but did not give a timeframe.

In April, as tensions increased following the North's nuclear test, Pyongyang effectively shut down operations at the industrial zone by withdrawing the 53 000 North Korean workers employed at the 123 South Korean plants there. Seoul subsequently withdrew all its managers.

The two Koreas agreed last month to work together to reopen the complex - a valued source of hard currency for the impoverished North - after Pyongyang changed tack to make a flurry of conciliatory gestures.

Separately Friday, a senior US official said North Korea's nuclear programme was a "driver of instability" in the region, urging Pyongyang to comply with its earlier commitment to denuclearisation.

Daniel Russel, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, made the remarks after he met South Korean officials including First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-Hyun.

"The focus must be on eliminating the North Korean nuclear programme which constitutes the driver of instability in the region and is vastly out of sync with the developments not only in Asia but in the international community", Russel told reporters.

Six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programme have been stalled since late 2008.

In another sign of rapprochement, Seoul has approved the first visit to the North by South Korean athletes in five years.

The group of 41 weightlifters and sports officials will visit Pyongyang to compete in the Asian Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Championship to be held from September 12 to 17, the unification ministry said Friday.

Pyongyang promised for the first time to display the South Korean flag and play its national anthem during any medal ceremony, it said.

The two Koreas remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty.

Read more on:    south korea  |  north korea  |  north korea nuclear programme

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.