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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

N.Korea reopens military communication channel with South

RIA Novosti

20/03/2009 15:50 SEOUL, March 20 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea informed the South on Friday that it would reopen the countries' military communications channel, which was cut in protest against South Korean-U.S. military drills, the Yonhap news agency said.

The sole means of direct communication between the countries' militaries - a phone and fax line - was cut off on March 9, when the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises began. The drills concluded earlier on Friday.

However, Yonhap said the North has given no indication of whether border crossings, closed during the exercises, will be reopened. While the border remains sealed, work at North Korea's Kaesong industrial park, run jointly with the South, will be severely limited.

After the exercises, South Korean Vice Unification Minister Hong Yang-ho told reporters: "North Korea sealed the overland passage again, which makes us question whether it is willing to continue the Kaesong industrial complex."

The border closure has left hundreds of South Koreans stranded at the Kaesong complex.

Hong Yang-ho said the complex would not be shut down, but that the border closures were inflicting "severe economic damage."

South Korean companies that run factories in Kaesong have complained that border closures have caused supplies to dry up. The complex, which produces around $250 million-worth of light-industry goods annually, is a major source of revenue for the impoverished North.

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