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Pyongyang reconnects military hotline

Weeks after it cut off military phone lines with South Korea in protest over a US-South Korea military drill, North Korea has restored phone lines used to authorise border crossings, according to South Korean officials.

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AFP - North Korea Saturday reconnected cross-border military phone lines and reopened the border for South Koreans visiting an industrial complex, the Unification Ministry here said.

"The military communication channel was restored this morning," Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-Joo told journalists.

The North on Saturday also gave approvals for border crossings by hundreds of South Koreans who wanted to cross the border to and from the Kaesong industrial estate.

In protest at a joint US-South Korea military exercise, the communist country cut off the phone lines used to authorise crossings to and from a joint industrial estate just north of the border.

The frontier has been intermittently closed since they were switched off on March 9, the day the drill started.

The US-South Korean military exercise, which Pyongyang described as a rehearsal for invasion, ended Friday.

An agreement to open the Seoul-funded estate was reached at the first inter-Korean summit in 2000.

It opened just north of the border in 2005 as a symbol of reconciliation but operations have been hampered on several occasions because of political tensions.
  

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