Seoul, South Korea – North Korea on Monday restored a dormant communications hotline with South Korea in a small, delicate reconciliation move, an apparent attempt to win external concessions with a mix of gestures of reconciliation and missile tests. It’s a hard push.
It is unclear how much the move will improve relations between Korea, as Pyongyang has a history of using the hotline with Seoul as a bargaining chip. It often unilaterally suspended and then reactivated them when it needed better relations with its southern neighbour.
North Korean liaison officers answered phone calls from their South Korean counterparts on a set of government and military channels across the border on Monday morning for the first time in nearly two months.
A Seoul official said during a phone conversation with his North Korean counterpart, “There has been no talk for a long time. We are very happy because the communication channels have been restored in this way. We hope that the South-North relations will be on a par. Will evolve to a new level.” A channel, according to the video released by the Ministry of Unification of South Korea.
Seoul’s defense ministry said that on a separate military channel, Korea exchanged information about fishing activities along its disputed western maritime border – where there have been several bloody inter-Korean naval battles in the past years – To prevent similar clashes, Seoul’s defense ministry said. A ministry statement said Seoul hopes the restoration of the hotline will help ease tensions on the peninsula.
Hotlines are phone and fax channels that Koreas use to set up meetings, make border crossing arrangements, and avoid accidental skirmishes. The North has cut them off in protest against South Korean civilian leaflet campaigns, as they have been stalled for more than a year. Communications were briefly revived this summer for about two weeks, but North Korea later refused to exchange messages when Seoul held annual military exercises with Washington, which Pyongyang called an invasion. Sees as rehearsal.
Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his desire to reactivate communication channels, saying he wanted to realize the wishes of the Korean people to promote peace. His influential sister, Kim Yo Jong, had earlier said that North Korea was ready to resume talks and cooperation if the conditions were met.
Some experts question the sincerity of such a proposal as it came after North Korea renewed its missile tests after a six-month hiatus. Kim Yo Jong has also said that South Korea should abandon “double standards of behavior” and a “hostile approach” if it really wants better relations, a position largely echoed by his brother.
Experts say North Korea is trying to use South Korea’s willingness to pressure the United States into persuading it to ease economic sanctions on the North. Others say that North Korea wants South Korea not to criticize its ballistic missile tests, which are banned by UN Security Council resolutions, as part of its efforts to gain an international recognition as a nuclear weapons state.
“The South Korean authorities should make positive efforts to put North-South relations on the right track and tackle important tasks that should be prioritized to open up bright prospects in the future, taking into account the meaning of the resumption of communications.” lines,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said ahead of the hotline’s resumption.
Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Jong-joo said Seoul hoped to resume official talks soon to improve relations based on the stable operation of the Korean hotline.
It is unclear whether North will get what it wants from his pressure campaign. Kim Jong Un has said he will not return to talks with the United States unless he abandons his “hostile policy”, an apparent reference to the sanctions. The United States, for its part, has offered talks “anywhere and at any time” without any preconditions, a stance that Kim described last week as “cunning” to hide US hostility against North Korea. Efforts were described as.
Nuclear diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington collapsed in early 2019 due to disputes over the exchange of sanctions relief with denuclearization steps. Despite its recent streak of weapons testing, North Korea still holds a self-imposed 2018 moratorium on testing of long-range missiles that directly threaten the US mainland, a sign that it is looking forward to future diplomacy with the US. Doesn’t want to spoil the prospects.