North and South Korea restart hotline and pledge to improve ties

North and South Korea’s leaders have pledged to improve relations and resume previously suspended communication channels between the two countries.

Why it matters: The resumption of the hotline on Tuesday comes despite stalled negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang on the denuclearization of North Korea, which broke down after a second summit between then-President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal in 2019.

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Details: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to “restore mutual confidence and develop their relationships again as soon as possible,” South Korea’s Blue House spokesperson Park Soo Hyun said in a televised briefing, per AP.

What they’re saying: Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a statement that “the whole Korean nation desires to see the North-South relations recovered from setback and stagnation as early as possible.”

  • “In this regard, the top leaders of the north and the south agreed to make a big stride in recovering the mutual trust and promoting reconciliation by restoring the cutoff inter-Korean communication liaison lines through the recent several exchanges of personal letters,” the statement added.

Zoom in: In June last year, North Korea cut the hotline, resumed military exercises, reestablished guard posts near the border and demolished an inter-Korean liaison office.

Zoom out: President Biden and Moon both reaffirmed the importance of North Korea’s denuclearization when they met in May.

  • Biden has pledged to pursue “a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy” with North Korea​.

  • The U.S. president last month extended for another year a long-standing old executive order declaring a national emergency over the nuclear threat of the isolated nation.

Go deeper… South Korean president: Trump “beat around the bush and failed” on North Korea

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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