SEOUL: North Korea yesterday reconnected a military hotline to the South that was cut earlier this year at the height of cross-border tensions, Seoul’s government said.
The line -- one of the two remaining inter-Korea military hotlines -- was disabled in late March weeks after the North’s third nuclear test and the following month a joint industrial zone was shut down.
The North in early March had cut off another line at the border truce village of Panmunjom before reopening it in July when relations showed signs of thawing.
Cross-border army hotlines in other parts of the country were severed years ago when tensions soared and left unrestored since then. The latest re-establishment of the hotline paves the way for the reopening of the Kaesong industrial zone as it is largely used to provide security guarantees when South Korean businessmen and workers visit the complex.
The North made the first call to the South via the hotline since March yesterday morning, said Seoul’s unification ministry, which handles cross-border affairs.
It followed an agreement on Thursday at a meeting of the inter-Korea committee tasked with reviving the shuttered Kaesong complex.
Separately yesterday, a senior US official said North Korea’s nuclear programme was a “driver of instability” in the region, urging Pyongyang to comply with its earlier commitment to denuclearisation.