- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 3, 2018

North Korea said Wednesday it will reopen a telephone hotline with South Korea — re-establishing a key emergency communications link between the two nations a day after Seoul put forward a proposal for high-level talks with Pyongyang.

State-run media in the North reported that the head of a Pyongyang’s agency handling inter-Korean affairs had announced the hotline, which went dead roughly two years ago, would be restored, according the South’s Yonhap News Agency.

Reuters reported that it was active Wednesday, with officials from the North placing a call to the South. While the call lasted about 20 minutes, details of what was discussed were not released.

The development comes amid signs of a thaw between North and South despite tensions that have soared between the two — as well as between Washington and Pyongyang — during recent months over the North’s ongoing nuclear weapons and missile tests.

The Trump administration has remained guarded on the prospect of unilateral talks between North and South. Despite sudden progress toward such talks in recent days, President Trump appeared this week to mock North Korea’s leader by tweeting that he has a “bigger and more powerful” nuclear button than dictator Kim Jong-un.

Mr. Trump’s tweet on Tuesday evening came in response to Mr. Kim’s New Year’s address, in which the North Korean repeated fiery nuclear threats against the United States and claimed to have a “nuclear button” on his own office desk.

The North-South emergency hotline, meanwhile, is located in the so-called “truce village” of Panmunjom inside the heavily guarded “demilitarized zone” or DMZ that divides the Korean peninsula.

While it has in the past existed as a key way for the two sides to tamp down accidental flare-ups along the DMZ, the North reportedly stopped answering the line two years ago after South Korea closed what had been a joint North-South industrial complex in Kaesong — a town on the North Korean side of the divide.

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