North Korea says inter-Korean hotlines will be restored on Monday

South Korea's Unification Minister Lee In-young (right) looking at the inter-Korean "hotline" in the Demilitarised Zone on Sept 16, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (REUTERS) - North Korea said on Monday (Oct 4) it will restore severed inter-Korean hotlines starting on Monday, but urged Seoul to step up efforts to improve relations, state media KCNA reported.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his willingness last week to reactivate the hotlines, which Pyongyang cut off in early August in protest against joint South Korea-United States military exercises, just days after reopening them for the first time in a year.

The official KCNA news agency said the lines will be reconnected on Monday at 9am (8am Singapore time), but called for Seoul to fulfil "tasks" to recover strained cross-border ties, without elaborating.

Mr Kim had urged South Korea to abandon its "double standards" and "delusion" over the North's self-defensive military activities while developing its own weapons.

"The South Korean authorities should make positive efforts to put the North-South ties on a right track and settle the important tasks which must be prioritised to open up the bright prospect in the future," KCNA said.

Tension had flared since the hotlines were severed, with North Korea warning of a security crisis and firing a series of new missiles, including a hypersonic missile, an anti-aircraft missile and a "strategic" cruise missile with potential nuclear capabilities.

The launches underlined how the isolated country has been constantly developing increasingly sophisticated weapons, amid stalled talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and missile programmes in return for US sanctions relief.

While accusing Washington of a "hostile policy", Pyongyang has said it is willing to mend inter-Korean relations and consider another summit if Seoul drops its double standards.

Analysts say the North's carrot-and-stick approach is aimed at securing international recognition as a nuclear weapons state and driving a wedge between Washington and Seoul, counting on South Korean President Moon Jae-in's eagerness to forge a diplomatic legacy before his term ends in May.

Remote video URL

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.