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North and South Korea restore hotline after Pyongyang tests

Seoul says it hopes move will be a ‘foundation’ to rebuilding ties tested by a recent series of missile launches.

North and South Korea have restored their cross-border hotline, the government in Seoul said on Monday, with officials exchanging their first phone call since August.

The move comes just days after Pyongyang sparked international concern with a series of missile tests in the span of a few weeks, prompting an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

Seoul’s unification ministry confirmed that officials from the two Koreas exchanged their first phone call since August on Monday morning.

“With the restoration of the South-North communication line, the government evaluates that a foundation for recovering inter-Korean relations has been provided,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The government hopes … to swiftly resume dialogue and begin practical discussions for recovering inter-Korean relations,” it added.

Earlier on Monday, North Korean state media reported that the line, severed after a brief reconnection in late July, would be restored at 9am (00:00 GMT).

KCNA said leader Kim Jong Un “expressed the intention of restoring the cut-off north-south communication lines” in an attempt to establish “lasting peace” on the Korean Peninsula.

Tensions between the two Koreans have increased since Pyongyang stopped answering calls on the hotline in August.

Last month, Pyongyang carried out a series of missile tests including a hypersonic weapon, and a cruise missile with nuclear capabilities.

South Korea also tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

Talks aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes collapsed over sanctions relief in 2019 and have yet to resume.

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