Updated Jul 27, 2021 - World

North and South Korea restart hotline and pledge to improve ties

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) meet on September 19, 2018 in Pyongyang, North Korea.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2018. Photo: Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images

North and South Korea's leaders have pledged to improve relations and resume previously suspended communication channels between the two countries.

Why it matters: The resumption of the hotline on Tuesday comes despite stalled negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang on the denuclearization of North Korea, which broke down after a second summit between then-President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal in 2019.

Details: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim agreed to "restore mutual confidence and develop their relationships again as soon as possible," South Korea's Blue House spokesperson Park Soo Hyun said in a televised briefing, per AP.

  • This followed an exchange of letters between the two leaders that began in April.

What they're saying: Pyongyang's state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a statement that "the whole Korean nation desires to see the North-South relations recovered from setback and stagnation as early as possible."

  • "In this regard, the top leaders of the north and the south agreed to make a big stride in recovering the mutual trust and promoting reconciliation by restoring the cutoff inter-Korean communication liaison lines through the recent several exchanges of personal letters," the statement added.

Flashback: In June last year, North Korea cut the hotline, resumed military exercises, reestablished guard posts near the border and demolished an inter-Korean liaison office.

Of note: President Biden and Moon both reaffirmed the importance of North Korea's denuclearization when they met in May.

  • Biden has pledged to pursue "a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy" with North Korea​.
  • The U.S. president last month extended for another year a long-standing old executive order declaring a national emergency over the nuclear threat North Korea poses.

Go deeper... South Korean president: Trump "beat around the bush and failed" on North Korea

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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