The staled communication hotline between Seoul and Pyongyang was restored Monday after weeks of a hiatus in a small, fragile reconciliation step as North Korea is working on winning outside concessions with a mix of conciliatory gestures and missile tests, Politico reports.
According to the statement by the Seoul’s Unification Ministry, the two Koreas’ liaison officials exchanged messages on Monday morning over a cross-border communication channel while other communication channels running across the tense border are expected to restore later in the day.
The Ministry’s statement said the hotline’s reconnection lays foundation for the restoration of ties between the two Koreas and underlined Seoul’s hopes for resuming talks on implementing previous cooperation agreements.
The phone and fax communication channels both Koreas used to arrange meetings and border crossings and to avoid accidental clashes have been dormant for over a year apart the brief two weeks revival of communications this summer that North Korea ended after Washington and Seoul staged annual military drills Pyongyang has seen as an invasion rehearsal.
Ahead of the hotline’s restoration the North’s official Korean Central News Agency stressed that Seoul should now settle the important tasks and make positive efforts to put ties between two countries on a right track towards stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Yet, many experts believe Pyongyang is trying to use Seoul’s wish to improve ties to pressure it to persuade the United States to relax economic sanctions, continuing at the same time a series of missile tests, its first weapons launches in six months, including those of potentially nuclear-capable missiles that place the key US allies Japan and South Korea within striking distance.
North Korea is banned from engaging in any ballistic missile activities under multiple UNSC resolutions as it aims to mount nuclear weapons on its ballistic missiles to allegedly cope with US military threats Washington denies.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang has warned on Sunday UN Security Council against criticizing its missile program after France circulated during an emergency closed-door meeting on Friday a proposed statement that expresses concern over North Korea’s missile launches. Paris also called Pyongyang to fully implement council resolutions that ban its ballistic missile firings.
Jo Chol Su, a senior North Korean Foreign Ministry official, accused UNSC of a double-dealing standard and warned on the possible consequences in the future if it tries to encroach upon the sovereignty of North Korea.
Despite its recent launches and in a sign that it still preserves chances for future diplomacy with the US, Pyongyang maintains a 2018 self-imposed moratorium on a long-range missile directly threatening the American homeland.