South Korea Wants to Reopen Communication With North

South Korea Wants to Reopen Communication With North

South Korea says it wants to reestablish lines of communication with North Korea, as new President Moon Jae-in seeks a two-track policy involving sanctions and dialogue with its reclusive neighbor to rein in its nuclear and missile programs.
The two countries are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The North has ignored calls to curb its weapons programs, defending them as necessary to counter US hostility, Aljazeera reported.
Its latest ballistic missile launch, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, was on Sunday which it said was a test of its capability to carry a “large-size heavy nuclear warhead”.
“Our most basic stance is that communication lines between South and North Korea should open,” Lee Duk-haeng, a spokesman for the South’s unification ministry, told reporters on Wednesday.
“The unification ministry has considered options on this internally, but nothing has been decided yet.”
Lee said communications were severed by North Korea last year, in the wake of new sanctions following North’s last nuclear test and Pyongyang’s decision to shut down a joint industrial zone operated inside the North.
There was no immediate response from Pyongyang.
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas, reporting from the South’s capital, Seoul, said Lee’s statement “refers effectively to a hotline”.
“There is a room on the South Korean side of the border, and a room on the North Korean side of the border, and a physical line between the two which has been there since the 1970s and is used to relay messages of emergencies,” he said.
Thomas said Seoul’s announcement appeared to indicate “a softer position” compared to the rhetoric at the United Nations headquarters in New York, where the Security Council weighed new sanctions on Pyongyang.
“This is very different to dialogue, or talks, or anything approaching what might come down the line, but at its most basic it is a sign that the South’s new government is trying to be more reconciliatory towards the North despite Sunday’s successful test on Sunday and Washington’s talks of sanctions at the UN,” Thomas said.

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