North Korea resets military hotline to South Korea

Korea Red Cross hq in Seoul, South Korea 12 Jan 2011
Image caption The Red Cross military hotline between North and South was cut off by the North last May

North Korea has restarted efforts to communicate with South Korea through a military hotline.

It also wants to restore tours to Mount Kumgang resort and improve co-operation at the Kaesong industrial zone - both jointly run with South Korea.

The overtures appear to be part of the North's new-found conciliatory approach after a year of high tension.

South Korea has said, however, that conditions for new talks with the North remain the same.

South Korea, and its main ally the United States, have insisted that North Korea must show serious intent to scale back its nuclear programme before talks can resume.

South Korea has also demanded an apology from the North for its alleged torpedoing of a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, in March, which killed 46 South Korean sailors, and for the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November.

"Our stance remains unchanged," said the spokeswoman for Seoul's unification ministry, Lee Jong-Joo.

"We urge North Korea once again to show true sincerity for improved relations," she added.

The Red Cross hotline was closed by the North last May in response to the South's allegations that it had sunk the Cheonan.

The North's reunification committee issued a statement on 8 January calling for "unconditional and early" talks.

"The South Korean authorities should discard any unnecessary misgiving, open their hearts and positively respond to the North's proposal and measure," the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said.

The committee also said the North would reopen a liaison office with the South at a joint factory-complex just north of the demilitarised zone that divides the peninsula.