A North Korean soldier takes photographs of South Korean soldiers at the truce village of Panmunjom. (File Photo)
A North Korean soldier takes photographs of South Korean soldiers at the truce village of Panmunjom. (File Photo)

N. Korea Opens Border Hotline With South

Rin Son Gown, chairman of the North Korean reunification committee, said North Korea would engage with the South in “a sincere and honest” manner

N. Korea Opens Border Hotline With South

North Korea has reopened a suspended border hotline with South Korea, a day after Seoul offered high-level talks to discuss Pyongyang's participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The hotline, which was suspended by the North in February 2016, was restored at 3pm local time (0630 GMT) on Wednesday at the border village of Panmunjom, Al Jazeera reported.
South Korea's Unification Ministry said North Korea made preliminary contact and officials examined whether the phone lines were working well. The conversation lasted 20 minutes, the ministry said.
North Korea said its leader Kim Jong-un ordered the restoration "to contact South Korea regarding a right time for talks and sending a delegation" to the Winter Olympics set to take place in South Korea next month.
Rin Son Gown, chairman of the North Korean reunification committee, said North Korea would engage with the South in "a sincere and honest" manner.
Wednesday's phone call comes amid a tense standoff over North Korea's missiles and nuclear program.
The tentative rapprochement began when Kim, in his New Year's address, said he was "open to dialogue" with South Korea and expressed an interest in sending athletes across the border to compete in Pyeongchang.
South Korea was quick to welcome the gesture and proposed to hold talks on January 9.
However, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said any improvement in relations must go hand in hand with steps towards denuclearization.
*** Trump Taunts Kim Jong Un
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump taunted Kim Jong Un on Tuesday night, bragging about his “Nuclear Button” and how it is “much bigger & more powerful” than the North Korean leader’s, Vox reported
“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!, ” Trump tweeted.
This exchange between two nuclear powers came after Kim Jong Un delivered a New Year’s address on Monday in which he boasted about North Korea’s nuclear program, saying its missiles could reach the United States and that a nuclear button is "always on the desk of my office."
Kim described this not as a threat, but as “reality,” but said he would not use it unless provoked if “hostile aggression forces” went after its interests. In his speech, Kim also made overtures toward South Korea, suggesting possible talks with North Korea’s neighbors to the south—a move that some saw as having the potential to drive a wedge between the US and South Korean alliance.
Trump responded Tuesday evening with his dangerous boast about his nuclear button, though earlier in the day he seemed to welcome the news that North Korea seemed willing to engage with the South, indicating it was a sign of the effectiveness of sanctions and “other” unspecified pressures.
“Sanctions and 'other' pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea. Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not—we will see!," he said in another tweet.
It is unclear what prompted Trump’s renewed bellicosity, though this isn’t the first time the US president has appeared to threaten nuclear war seemingly on the fly. In August, Trump warned Kim’s nuclear threats would be met with “fire and fury the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

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