North and South Korea Reestablish Military Hotline

National Journal

North and South Korea on Friday reconnected a bilateral military communications line that had been severed since March, in potentially another sign that the two nations are moving past the highly volatile relations that raised fears this spring of an armed confrontation, the Korea Herald reported.

The armed-forces hotline has helped facilitate the safe passage of South Koreans who work at the Kaesong industrial complex just over the North Korean border. The inter-Korean business site was shut down this spring when bilateral tensions were at their peak, following multiple threats by Pyongyang that it would carry out nuclear strikes on South Korea and the United States.

Amid the signs of improved inter-Korean ties, China is attempting to build regional support for relaunching long-stalled talks aimed at permanently shuttering North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Beijing has proposed hosting semi-formal discussions on Sept. 18 with its partners in the six-nation nuclear talks -- Washington, Tokyo, Moscow, Seoul and Pyongyang.

The United States has not yet determined whether it will participate in the proposed meeting, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said on Friday. Speaking in Seoul, the visiting senior State Department official for East Asian affairs said the center of focus must be on first "facilitating authentic negotiation" with the North.

The Obama administration's policy has been to abstain from six-nation talks until North Korea first makes concrete demonstrations of its commitment to end its nuclear-weapons development. The last round of negotiations took place in December 2008. Since that time, Pyongyang has substantially improved its atomic and missile capabilities.

President Obama discussed the North Korea situation with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday on the margins of the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. special envoy for North Korea, Glyn Davies, is slated to visit South Korea, China and Japan next week for talks on the North Korean nuclear impasse, the State Department announced on Thursday.

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