SEOUL, South Korea—North Korea announced Wednesday during a North Korean state radio address that it will reopen a cross-border communication channel, a decision welcomed by officials in Seoul.
The announcement follows a South Korean offer on Tuesday of high-level talks with North Korea to find ways to cooperate on next month’s Winter Olympics in the South. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday suggested that the North might send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Games.
Host South Korea is well prepared should North Korea decide to take part in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, with a cruise ship ready to transport and accommodate its athletes, organisers say https://t.co/3dGMqB30T8 pic.twitter.com/rp81TQqEo0
— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 3, 2018
The South’s Unification Ministry, which monitors North Korea’s state media, says the two Koreas have begun preliminary contacts via the now reopened cross-border communication system at the border village of Panmunjom on Wednesday.
The statement says officials were first trying to examine whether the communicating lines were working well.
North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un reopened the channel earlier Wednesday, a day after South Korea offered talks.
Although the development is a positive sign that the Koreas are working toward improved ties, there’s no guarantee that tensions will ease. There have been repeated attempts in recent years by the rivals to talk, and even when they do meet, the efforts often end in recriminations or stalemate. North Korea didn’t say whether it would accept the South Korean offer for talks.
Ri Son Gwon, chairman of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification, made the announcement on Kim Jong Un’s behalf, according Seoul’s Unification Ministry.
Ri said North Korea will try to engage with South Korea in a “sincere and careful” manner by “upholding the will of the supreme leader,” in a reference to Kim, the ministry said.