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(LEAD) N. Korea says all inter-Korean hotlines to be restored starting at 9 a.m. Monday

All News 07:24 October 04, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more info in 7th para, last 4 paras)
By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Monday that it will reactivate all of its communication lines with South Korea later in the day.

It urged Seoul to make "positive" efforts as well to put inter-Korean relations back on track.

The announcement came days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed an intention during a major policy speech to restore the severed hotlines in early October as part of efforts to improve inter-Korean relations.

"The relevant organs decided to restore all the north-south communication lines from 9:00 on Oct. 4 true to his intention," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

"The South Korean authorities should make positive efforts to put the North-South ties on a right track and settle the important tasks which must be prioritized to open up the bright prospect in the future, bearing deep in mind the meaning of the restoration of communication lines," it added.

Kim told a session of the rubber-stamp parliament last week that he will restore cross-border communication lines from early October as part of efforts "to realize the expectation and desire of the entire nation who want the North-South relations to be restored as soon as possible and lasting peace to be settled on the Korean Peninsula."

But he emphasized that it is entirely up to South Korea when it comes to the future trajectory of their ties.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during the second day of a session of the Supreme People's Assembly, the North's parliament, at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on Sept. 29, 2021, in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) the next day. Kim said that 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, according to the KCNA. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korea blew up the liaison office in its border town of Kaesong and unilaterally cut off all inter-Korean communication lines in June last year in anger over anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent from the South.

The hotlines were back in operation in late July, but the North has refused to respond to Seoul's regular calls again since August in protest at the plan by South Korea and the United States to stage their joint military drills as scheduled. The North has long denounced the allies' annual military exercise as a rehearsal for invasion.

In a recent U.N. speech, President Moon Jae-in again proposed the declaration of a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War. North Korea called the offer an "admirable idea," saying that it is willing to discuss improving inter-Korean relations only when Seoul stops double standards against its "defensive" weapons tests and "hostile" policy toward its regime.

The North's move to reconnect the hotlines raises hope that cross-border dialogue and cooperation will be resumed soon.

The Seoul government earlier said that the reactivation of the hotlines will help address a host of pending issues between the two Koreas and expressed hope that the lines remain in operation in a stable manner going forward.

Unification Minister Lee In-young told reporters in Berlin on Sunday (local time) said that South Korea will push to arrange high-level talks with North Korea before the end of this year. He was on a trip to three European countries, including Germany, to drum up support for Seoul's efforts to improve ties with Pyongyang.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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