South Korea's president Moon Jae-in. Photo: Yonhap via Reuters
South Korea's president Moon Jae-in. Photo: Yonhap via Reuters

South Korea’s unification ministry said on Wednesday that severed communication links with North Korea should reopen, as President Moon Jae-in seeks a policy of sanctions and dialogue with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program.

“Our most basic stance is that communication lines between South and North Korea should open,” Lee Duk-haeng, a ministry spokesman told a regular media briefing.

Moon was elected to office on May 9 and reportedly plans to send diplomats to the United States, China, Japan and Russia this month to discuss approaches to North Korea.

Communication links were cut by Pyongyang after February 2016, Lee said, when sanctions were imposed on North Korea after its last nuclear test and its decision to shut down a joint industrial zone in the North.

Lee said authorities from the South go to the Panmunjom communications office at the border between the two Koreas every day to check for possible responses from North Korea.

A South Korean guard (R) reports on his North Korean counterpart at the Demilitarized Zone in Panmunjom, 29 March 2002. Photo: AFP/Goh Chai Hin.

North Korea seemingly rebuffed Moon’s offer to talk by test-firing a missile on Sunday in violation of UN sanctions, saying the launch was a “newly developed ballistic rocket” capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

North Korea has rejected all calls to end its nuclear and missile programs, even from its major ally China, calling them legitimate means of self-defence.

In New York, The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, took a tougher line, saying nations either “support North Korea or you support us,” in a warning to countries failing to implement UN sanctions.

Washington, she said, would consider talks with Pyongyang only if the country halted all nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley with Japan’s U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho (L) and South Korea’s U.N. Ambassador Cho Tae-yul (R). May 16, 2017. Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Her comments came ahead of an emergency Tuesday meeting of the UN Security Council, which on Monday unanimously condemned North Korea’s latest missile test and warned of new sanctions.

“If you are a country that is supplying or supporting North Korea, we will call you out on it,” Haley told reporters, flanked by Japan and South Korean ambassadors to the UN. “We will make sure that everyone knows who you are and we will target those sanctions towards you as well.”

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