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North and South Korea restore military communication lines

North and South Korea have restored the military communication lines between the two countries that were severed almost 13 months ago over what Pyongyang had described as Seoul's failure to prevent activists and defectors from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Seoul said that the military hotline was formally re-opened at 10.00 h (local time) on 27 July in accordance with an agreement reached by the leaders of the two countries, who, according to South Korea's presidential office, have been exchanging letters since April to restore mutual trust and improve relations between the neighbouring countries.

The Yonhap News Agency quoted the MND officials as saying that ship-to-ship radio links between the two Koreas – via the global merchant marine communication network – are also operating normally, while South Korea's Ministry of Unification noted the two sides also agreed to hold regular phone calls twice a day: at 09.00 h and 17.00 h.

The MND said it expects the re-opening of the military communication channels to “substantially contribute to easing military tensions” and facilitate the implementation of the inter-Korean Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA) signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on 19 September 2018 during a summit held in Pyongyang. At the time the two sides agreed to establish maritime, air, and ground buffer zones in frontline areas as part of efforts to reduce military tensions, prevent accidental clashes, and build trust.

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