North Korea has reopened communication lines with South Korea, two years after both countries broke off communications and commenced hostilities.
In a rare unexpected move, Kim Jong Un, North Korean leader’s vowed to open dialogue with South Korea and also send a team to the Winter Olympics holding in the south next month.
The breakthrough came just days after the North Korean leader extended a rare olive branch to the South Korea during an unusually conciliatory New Year’s speech, in which Kim said discussions about sending a North Korean sporting delegation to Pyeongchang should start “as soon as possible.”
A North Korean official announced the ‘hotline’s’ official re-opening in a televised statement.
“We will make close contact with South Korea in a sincere and faithful manner,” Yonhap news agency-Korean Local TV- quoted the official. He said the countries would “discuss working-level issues” about sending the delegation.
North Korea cut off the communications channel since December 2015 and the two nations have not held high-level talks since then, refusing each other’s calls, according to officials in the South.
South Korea confirmed it had received a call from the North at 15:30 local time (6:30am GMT) on Wednesday.
As reported by the CNN, the press secretary for South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said the restoration of this communications channel was “very significant”.
“The restoration of the communication channels means a lot. It creates an environment where communication will be possible at all times. It is assessed that (we) are headed to setting up a structure through which contacts can be made on a regular basis,” said a presidential press secretary.
Moon’s office welcomed Wednesday’s gesture for talks and expressed optimism, ”they’d be extended from participation in the Winter Olympics to other issues.”
Moon has championed the 2018 Winter Olympics, set to begin February 9, as a possible means of easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Neither side has yet to provide details as to the nature of the call or what precisely was discussed.
If North Korean athletes can participate in the Winter Games and even parade together with their South Korean counterparts in the opening and closing ceremonies, that would send the North-South relationship to the highest level ever seen over the past few years.
Meanwhile tension between North Korea and the Americans appears to be rising.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted late on Tuesday that he had, ”a bigger and powerful weapon” in response to recent threats by North Korean leader.
He tweeted, ”North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”