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N. Korea to reopen hotline, pushes back on talks with South

Update: June, 07/2013 - 11:50

SEOUL – North Korea said on Friday it would restore its severed hotline with South Korea, taking another step towards dialling down months of tension, even as it quibbled over its rival's offer of high-level talks in Seoul.

In a sign of the horse-trading to come, the North said the proposed talks should initially be held at a lower level than the South's wish for a ministerial meeting, and should take place on North Korean territory.

Such a framework was preferable given that "bilateral relations have been stalemated for years and mistrust has reached an extreme", said a spokesman for Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK). The hotline – suspended by the North in March as military tensions flared – would be restored from 2pm (0500 GMT) on Friday, the spokesman added. The Red Cross link that runs through the border truce village of Panmunjom has long been a vital source of government-to-government communication in the absence of diplomatic relations.

The CPRK statement came a day after the two Koreas unexpectedly reached a snap agreement on opening a dialogue, and a day before a US-China summit at which the North's nuclear programme will be high on the agenda. -- AFP

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