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Minister raises urgent need to restore inter-Korean communication line

All Headlines 16:27 November 27, 2017

SEOUL, Nov. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification minister on Monday called for the restoration of suspended inter-Korean communication channels to prevent accidental military conflicts along the tense border.

Cho Myoung-gyon raised the need to immediately recover two communication hotlines which were cut off by North Korea last year, citing a recent dramatic defection across the border by a North Korean soldier.

"It is urgent to reopen the communication lines to prevent accidental armed conflicts," Cho said in a prepared text speech for a forum on peace.

In February 2016, North Korea severed the two inter-Korean communication channels in response to Seoul's closure of a joint industrial complex in the North Korean border city of Kaesong.

"In that sense, Seoul's offer for inter-Korean military and family reunion talks remains intact," the minister said. "We call on North Korea to make efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and relieve the pain of families (separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.)"

The North Korean soldier, identified only by his surname Oh, defected to South Korea across the border on Nov. 13 after sustaining multiple gunshots from his fellow soldiers.

It marked a rare defection through a jointly controlled area of the truce village of Panmunjom located in the Demilitarized Zone which bisects South and North Korea.

Meanwhile, Kim Chang-soo, a policy advisor for the minister, said that there is intelligence which indicates North Korea has refrained from nuclear and missile tests for more than two months as it is preparing for another provocative act.

"There is the possibility of North Korea's provocations. North Korea could announce its completion of nuclear force based on such tests," he said at the forum.

This photo taken on Nov. 27, 2017, shows Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon speaking to lawmakers. (yonhap)


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