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(LEAD) N.K. leader says inter-Korean communication lines will be restored in early Oct.

All News 07:38 September 30, 2021

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By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, Sept. 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said cross-border communication lines with South Korea will be restored in early October as part of efforts to improve relations and build peace on the Korean Peninsula, state media reported Thursday.

In a speech at the second-day session of the Supreme People's Assembly on Wednesday, Kim also said the U.S. offer to hold talks without conditions is nothing but a means to mask its unchanged hostile attitude against Pyongyang, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

"Comrade Kim Jong-un expressed an intention to restore the North-South communication lines ... as part of efforts to realize the whole people's expectations and aspirations to improve the current strained ties between the two Koreas at an earliest possible date and make solid peace take root on the Korean Peninsula," the KCNA said.

Inter-Korean relations have remained in a deadlock since the no-deal summit between the U.S. and North Korea in early 2019. The ties chilled further after North Korea blew up the Kaesong liaison office and cut off all cross-border communication lines in protest of anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent from the South.

The lines were briefly back in operation in late July, but the North has not answered Seoul's regular calls -- twice a day -- again as it bristled at joint military drills by South Korea and the U.S.

North Korea has denounced such drills as a rehearsal for invasion, but South Korea and the U.S. have claimed they are defensive in nature. It has recently ramped up calls for Seoul to stop its double standards of criticizing the North's "defensive" weapons tests while justifying its arms build-up.

Kim urged Seoul to drop such attitudes first before seeking a declaration to formally end the Korean War recently proposed by President Moon Jae-in, saying it is up to Seoul to determine the future trajectory of inter-Korean ties.

With regard to the U.S., Kim said that Washington's military threats and hostile policy against Pyongyang have not changed at all and have become more cunning since the new administration took office early this year.

"The U.S. is calling for diplomatic engagement and unconditional dialogue but they are nothing but a means to deceive the international community and mask its hostile behavior and an extension of what preceding U.S. administrations have pursued," Kim was quoted as saying.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks at the second-day session of the SPA meeting held a day earlier, in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency on Sept. 30, 2021. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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