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North Korea opens border hotline with South

North Korea opens border hotline with South
From Al Jazeera - January 3, 2018

North Korea has reopened a suspended border hotline withSouth Korea, a day after Seoul offeredhigh-level talksto discuss Pyongyang's participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The hotline, which was suspended by the North in February 2016, was restored at 3pm local time (06:30 GMT) on Wednesday at the border village of Panmunjom.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said North Korea made preliminary contact and officials examined whether the phone lines were working well.The conversation lasted 20 minutes, the ministry said.

North Korea said its leader Kim Jong-un ordered the restoration "to contact South Korea regarding a right time for talks and sending a delegation" to the Winter Olympics set to take place in South Korea next month.

Rin Son Gown, chairman of the North Korean reunification committee, said North Korea would engage with the South in "a sincere and honest" manner.

Wednesday's phone call comes amid a tense standoff over North Korea's missiles and nuclear programme.

The tentative rapprochement began when Kim, in his New Year'saddress,said he was "open to dialogue" with South Korea and expressed an interest in sending athletes across the border to compete in Pyeongchang.

South Korea was quick to welcome the gesture and proposed to hold talks on January 9.

However, President Moon Jae-in said any improvement in relations must go hand in hand with steps towards denuclearisation.

But Kim, in his New Year address, vowed to push ahead with "mass producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment in 2018".

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