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2 Koreas agree to restore military hotline

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September 5, 2013 08:14 AM EST | AP

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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea agreed Thursday to restore a cross-border military hotline with South Korea, in another sign of easing tensions between the rivals in recent weeks, the South Korean government said.

North Korea in March shut down the telephone and fax lines used to coordinate cross-border travel to a joint industrial park in Kaesong that has since been shuttered. During the spring, North Korea issued a series of threats including vows to launch nuclear strikes on Seoul and Washington, but later dialed down its rhetoric and made conciliatory gestures.

On Thursday, the two Koreas agreed at a meeting in Kaesong to restart the hotline starting Friday, Seoul's Unification Ministry said.

The two Koreas agreed last month to work toward a reopening of the industrial complex, which had been the last symbol of reconciliation between the countries before North Korea suspended its operations in April.

In June, the two Koreas restored another communications channel at a border village.

But last week, North Korea withdrew its invitation to a U.S. envoy to visit the country to discuss the release of a detained American, citing the alleged participation of U.S. nuclear-capable bombers in annual military exercises between Washington and Seoul.

The Korean Peninsula remains officially at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,000 U.S. troops are deployed in South Korea in a legacy of the war.