South Korea urges North to restore hotlines for any talks

South Korea Koreas Tensions

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Sunday urged North Korea to restore dormant communication hotlines, a day after the North repeated an offer to open conditional talks.

The North might be seeking to extract concessions about two weeks after it raised tensions by carrying out its first missile tests in six months. North Korea has twice reached out to South Korea saying it’s open to talks if conditions are met.

Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said Saturday the two Koreas can take steps toward reconciliation if South Korea abandons “hostile polices” and “double-dealing standards.”

She didn’t elaborate on what specific steps she wants South Korea to take. But some experts say North Korea wants South Korea to play a role in winning relief from U.S.-led sanctions, getting aid, or receiving other concessions such as international recognition as a nuclear weapons state.

On Sunday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry called Kim Yo Jong’s statement “meaningful," saying the South has been consistently pushing to achieve denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue.

To hold talks on beginning steps toward reconciliation, a ministry statement said that suspended cross-border communication lines must be reactivated quickly to promote stable communications between the divided countries. It said Seoul hopes the two Koreas can resume talks on many pending issues.

The South Korean statement refers to a set of phone- and fax-like communication channels between the rivals, which have been largely dormant for more than a year. The two Koreas briefly resumed communications over the channels for about two weeks this summer, but North Korea later refused to exchange messages again after Seoul staged annual military drills with Washington.

Earlier this month, North Korea carried out tests of ballistic and cruise missiles in its first such launches since March, displaying an ability to attack South Korea and Japan, both key U.S. allies. North Korea still maintains a moratorium on testing longer-range missiles capable of reaching the American homeland, a suggestion that it wants to keep alive the chances for future diplomacy with the U.S.