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Koreas make contact via resumed hotline for talks

All News 12:41 January 04, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea made contact via the restored cross-border hotline Thursday as they are seeking to hold talks to discuss Pyongyang's potential participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

A North Korean liaison official made a call to his South Korean counterpart at the shared border village of Panmunjom at 9:30 a.m., according to Seoul's unification ministry.

The South initiated a call at 9:00 a.m., but it was not answered largely because the North's working hours had not begun as Seoul's time is 30 minutes ahead of Pyongyang's.

The North reopened the suspended communication channel after nearly two years on Wednesday following its leader Kim Jong-un's extension of his overture to Seoul on New Year's Day.

The resumption of the line came quickly after Seoul proposed Tuesday discussions on Olympic cooperation and ways to improve long-stalled ties between the two countries.

Koreas make contact via resumed hotline for talks - 1

Asked whether the North needed to notify the South of anything in the first call, the North's official said, "No."

"If there is something to notify, we will contact you," the North Korean official was quoted as saying by the ministry.

The revival of the dialogue channel indicates a first step toward efforts to improve their ties, which have been marred by North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

The two sides are expected to negotiate details about talks including agenda items through the line.

Ri Son-gwon, the head of North Korea's state agency in charge of inter-Korean affairs, announced the channel's opening the previous day, saying that North Korea will consult with the South in a sincere manner.

But the official did not specify whether Pyongyang would accept the format of high-level talks proposed by Seoul.

"There was nothing the two Koreas exchanged as to details over talks," said an official at the Ministry of Unification handling inter-Korean affairs. "We will wait for the North's reply in a calm manner and review the next steps."

The official said if Ri were to come as the North's chief negotiator, his South Korean counterpart would be Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon.

He said that the government will form a delegation after taking into account the agenda and the format of talks.


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