N.Korea Reopens Border Communication Channel

January 04, 2018 09:45

North Korea on Wednesday reopened an inter-Korean hotline at the truce village of Panmunjom so the two sides can discuss its participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The North sent a message to South Korea on Wednesday afternoon, only a day after Seoul proposed reopening the communication channel but did not say whether it would accept Seoul's offer of high-level talks.

"Around 3:30 p.m., a North Korean liaison official called his South Korean counterpart on the hotline at Panmunjom," the Unification Ministry said. "They chiefly talked about communication lines."

They chatted for about 20 minutes.

The North cut the hotline two years ago in protest over Seoul's decision to shut down the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.

Earlier, Ri Son-gwon, the chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, went on state TV to announce the decision to reopen the hotline "on behalf of leader Kim Jong-un."

A South Korean official talks on the phone with his North counterpart in the truce village of Panmunjom in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday. /Courtesy of the Ministry of Unification

The U.S. responded skeptically, with President Donald Trump tweeting, "Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not -- we will see!"

In the afternoon Trump was back to boasting and baiting the North. "North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un just stated that the 'nuclear button is on his desk at all times.' Will someone from his depleted and food-starved regime please inform him that I too have a nuclear button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my button works!"

"Kim Jong-un may be trying to drive a wedge of some sort between the two nations," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.

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