Senior diplomats of S. Korea, U.S. hold phone talks after reactivation of inter-Korean hotline

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) — Senior diplomats of South Korea and the United States held phone talks Thursday, the foreign ministry said, after this week’s restoration of inter-Korean communication lines raised hopes for the resumption of nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.

First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun and Seoul’s top nuclear envoy, Noh Kyu-duk, had separate talks with their U.S. counterparts, Wendy Sherman and Sung Kim, respectively, to discuss cooperation for “substantive” progress in joint efforts to foster a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, the ministry said.

The two Koreas reactivated communication lines on Tuesday, 13 months after the reclusive regime unilaterally severed them in anger over South Korean activists sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

In the phone calls, Choi and Noh said that continued efforts for dialogue and engagement with North Korea are important after the restoration of the communication lines, the ministry said.

The U.S. officials reaffirmed Washington’s support for inter-Korean dialogue, noting they view the reactivation of communication lines as a good development, according to the ministry.

“The two sides agreed to continue close communication regarding the Korean Peninsula issue based on the diplomatic efforts coordinated between the South and the U.S.,” the ministry said in a press release.

Following the reopening of the communication lines, South Korea has been cranking up diplomacy with the U.S. and other concerned countries to advance its drive to build peace with the North.

The reactivation came amid growing skepticism over Seoul’s peace drive, which had been hamstrung by the North’s explosion of a joint liaison office in June last year, its hardening rhetoric and unceasing drive for its nuclear program.

First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun (R) and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman bump elbows before their talks at the foreign ministry in Seoul on July 23, 2021, in this photo provided by the ministry. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)