North Korea Restores Hotline With South, Suggests New Talks

North Korea restored its hotline with South Korea this week after the world’s most secretive nation invited Seoul officials to attend working-level talks in Kaesong.

In response, the South used the hotline to accept the North’s proposal. However, Seoul suggested the talks should be held at the Panmunjom truce village, which straddles the border between the two nations.

South Korea also suggested that the talks should include prep work for the ministerial-level meeting, which will take place soon. Restorations of the Red Cross link, which was severed by the North in March, is the latest signal that tensions in the region are calming.

North Korea significantly increased tensions in March by declaring an end to the truce between the two nations and severing the hotline. The country also test fired several weapons into the ocean and set up others for testing along the eastern coast.

But those weapons were removed from their launching positions last month — a signal that the North was backing down on its war rhetoric.

While the upcoming talks will include topics on how the two nations can agree to keep the peace, the North’s nuclear weapons program will apparently not be up for debate. Also expected will be negotiations on reopening the factory complex in Kaesong, located just north of the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two nations.

The decade-old complex is the product of an inter-Korean cooperation. But it was gradually shut down after Pyongyang cut off border communications and access in March. The country then pulled its 53,000 workers. The last South Korean managers left Kaesong last month.

The logistical talks between North and South Korea will be held on Sunday in Panmunjom. Later this week, the two countries will hold their first cabinet minister-level meeting in six years. The suggestion by North Korea was a surprise, given the country’s rhetoric in recent months.

Do you think the suggestion of talks from North Korea is a sign that the two countries could finally enter a long-term peace?

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