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Koreas’ phone contact restored

Sat., March 21, 2009, midnight

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea restored the only telephone link with South Korea and reopened a key border crossing for South Korean workers today, officials said.

The move came a day after South Korea and the United States ended their annual military exercises across South Korea. The North Korean military cut the communications hot line on March 9 to protest the drills.

Washington and Seoul call the war games routine defense drills; Pyongyang accused the two nations’ militaries of preparing to attack the North.

“Officials of the two Koreas conducted a trial phone conversation,” after reconnecting the hot line this morning, South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Robert A. Wood called the re-establishment of the hot line “a good thing.”

The hot line is vital for coordinating the passage of people and goods across the Koreas’ border – one of the most heavily fortified in the world. The two countries technically remain at war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953.


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