Aviation hotline between Koreas revived

Oct. 18, 2010 at 10:18 AM
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SEOUL, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The aviation hotline between North and South Korea was reconnected Monday, months after North Korea severed the link in protest, a South Korean spokesman said.

Airport officials in Pyongyang and Inchon, South Korea, successfully talked to each other for the first time since North Korea broke the link amid tensions over the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, in which 46 South Korean sailors died, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. The link was severed in May after South Korea announced a series penalties against its neighbor for the incident. North Korea has denied involvement in the sinking.

South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said North Korean officials proposed the revival of the aviation hotline, Chun said.

"The North did not give any background explanation on the re-establishment of the hotline," Chun said.

The hotline re-establishment comes as sides prepare to hold reunions of families separated by the Korean War for the first time in a year later this month in North Korea, Yonhap said.

Red Cross officials from the two Koreas met Monday at a checkpoint in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, exchanging lists of families that may be reunited, Chun said.

Yonhap said recent gestures from Pyongyang also may be designed to foster stability as the North works to consolidate the power of its next leader, Kim Jong Un, the third son of the country's ailing leader, Kim Jong Il.

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