Seoul hails Pyongyang’s promise to restore inter-Korea hotline as ‘significant’

Pyongyang said on Wednesday it will restore a hotline with the South at 6.30 GMT, after Seoul proposed high-level talks in response to Kim Jong-Un’s calls for better relations and suggestion his country might attend the Winter Olympics.

Kim also welcomed Seoul’s support for his overtures, a North Korean official told state television.

Seoul hailed the promise as “very significant”, saying it was an important step in rebooting long-stalled dialogue with the nuclear-armed North.

“The restoration of the hotline is very significant,” said chief presidential press secretary Yoon Young-Chan. “It creates an environment where communication will be possible at all times.”

In his New Year address, Kim warned the United States that he has a “nuclear button” on his table, but extended an olive branch to the South, saying his country might take part in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next month.

In response, South Korea’s unification minister Cho Myoung-Gyon on Tuesday offered to hold high-level talks on January 9 to discuss the North’s participation in the Olympics as well as other matters of mutual interest.

“By upholding a decision by the leadership, we will make close contact with South Korea in a sincere and faithful manner,” the Yonhap news agency quoted Ri Son-gwon, the head of North Korea’s agency handling inter-Korean affairs, as saying.

It reported that the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) said it will discuss practical matters involving the participation of North Korean athletes at the Pyeongchang Games.

Kim “expressed welcome” after South Korean President Moon Jae-In said he supported Kim’s offer of seeking reconciliation, Ri said on North Korean state TV monitored in Seoul.

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