Kim Jong-un is willing to reopen inter-Korean direct calls

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he was willing to restore direct telephone lines next month, in a statement quoted by state news agency KCNA Thursday.

But he also criticized the US for submitting a proposal for talks without changing its “hostile policy” towards the country

North Korea cut the call in early August in protest against joint South Korean-US military exercises, just days after opening them up again for the first time in a year.

According to KCNA, Kim said the reactivation of the channel would help “realize the hopes and desires of the entire Korean nation” to restore cross-border relations, adding that “we have no target or reason to provoke South Korea and have no thoughts of harming it.”

Meanwhile, Kim was harsher on Washington, writing “the US touts ‘diplomatic dialogue’ and ‘dialogue without preconditions’ but this is nothing more than a petty ploy to deceive the international community and hide its acts of hostility.”

South Korea’s Unification Ministry welcomed Kim’s offer of a direct line, but did not comment on his remarks.

The United States has said it is approaching North Korea to break the impasse over talks aimed at dismantling the country’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for an easing of US sanctions.

Earlier this week, North Korea fired a previously unknown hypersonic missile, alarming the US and neighboring South Korea.

Pyongyang again said it was urging Seoul and Washington to eliminate what it called “double standards” regarding weapons manufacturing.

Diplomats said influential Western powers had requested a closed-door meeting at the UN Security Council on Thursday to discuss Pyongyang’s latest missile test. [uh/lt]

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