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South, North Korea have restored hotlines as leaders seek to rebuild ties

South, North Korea have restored hotlines as leaders seek to rebuild ties

South Korean soldiers stand guard at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, South Korea, May 1, 2019. (File photo: REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji)

SEOUL: South Korea and North Korea have restored their once-severed hotlines as part of efforts by the two countries' leaders to rebuild strained ties, Seoul's presidential Blue House said on Tuesday (Jul 27).

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have exchanged multiple letters since April and agreed to reconnect the hotlines, said Moon's press secretary, Park Soo-hyun.

North Korea's state media outlet, KCNA, also said all inter-Korean communication channels resumed operations at 10am on Tuesday (9am, Singapore time) in line with an agreement between Moon and Kim.

"The two leaders have explored ways to recover relations by exchanging letters on several occasions, and agreed to restore severed hotlines as a first step for that process," Park said in a statement.

"They have also agreed to regain trust as soon as possible and foster progress on relations again."

KCNA touted the reopening of the hotlines as "a big stride in recovering the mutual trust and promoting reconciliation".

READ: Biden has 'no illusions' on difficulty of North Korea denuclearisation

North Korea cut the hotlines in June 2020 as cross-border ties soured after a failed second summit in February 2019 between Kim and former US President Donald Trump, which Moon had offered to mediate.

Moon has called for a revival of the hotline and talks, pinning high hopes on US President Joe Biden to restart negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.

The announcement came as the two Koreas marked the 68th anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950 to 1953 Korean War.

Kim paid tribute to fallen soldiers and sent gifts to surviving veterans, according to KCNA.

Source: Reuters/dv

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