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South Korea: Communication lines with North Korea reopened

From Jiyeon Lee, CNN
Small-scale skirmishes have flared repeatedly along their land and sea borders over the past six decades.
Small-scale skirmishes have flared repeatedly along their land and sea borders over the past six decades.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The Koreas can discuss reunions for separated families with the reopened direct line
  • Unification ministry: A direct hotline with North Korea and Red Cross channels are open
  • North Korea cut off the hotline in May after the South's response to the Cheonan sinking

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- The South Korean Ministry of Unification confirmed Wednesday that it has reopened communication channels with Pyongyang, North Korea, in the border area of Panmunjom.

A media officer at the ministry said officials reopened a direct hotline between the two Koreas and Red Cross communication channels.

With the reopening of the direct communication line, the two Koreas are able to discuss issues such as holding reunions for separated families and initiate contact for aid or inter-Korean talks.

It is the first time in eight months that the two sides have reopened the hotline.

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North Korea cut off the hotline on May 26 to protest South Korea's response to the sinking of the Cheonan naval ship in March, which killed 46 sailors.

South Korea and the international community blamed the North for the sinking, but Pyongyang has denied the accusations.

Tensions rose again in November, when North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island. The incident killed two South Korean marines and two civilians. North Korea said the strike was in retaliation to South's navy firing into Northern waters.

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