Two Koreas restore Red Cross hotline at truce village

Seoul, Jan 12 (Yonhap) North Korea reopened its RedCross hotline with South Korea at their joint truce villagetoday as promised, an official said, as the communist statecontinues to appeal for talks with Seoul in an apparent bid todraw much-needed assistance.

Liaison officials of the two countries made theirfirst contact in nearly eight months on the hotline installedat Panmunjom, a Unification Ministry official said.

North Korea had shut down the line in May last yearafter South Korea condemned the country for the deadly sinkingof its warship.

The reopening of the hotline comes as North Koreasteps up its charm offensive toward South Korea despitetension that soared after the North shelled a South Koreanborder island on November 23, killing two marines and twocivilians.

Earlier this week, the North announced it would reopenthe Panmunjom Red Cross hotline and the Consultative Officefor North-South Economic Cooperation in its western bordertown of Kaesong, proposing that the sides quickly resumecross-border dialogue.

South Korea has dismissed the offers as "insincere,"demanding the North first take actions that account for thesinking and the shelling.

Unification Minister Hyun In-taek said this week thatthe North must also be able to confirm its commitment todenuclearization in its talks with the South.

North Korea has traditionally shunned discussions onits nuclear arms development in dialogue with South Korea,saying the activity is aimed at deterring a US invasion.


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