By Alex Jensen
North Korea fulfilled another of its obligations to South Korea and the United States on Tuesday, after Pyongyang reached agreements with the allies in separate summits this year.
The Koreas fully restored a military hotline in the western border area, according to Seoul's Defense Ministry, as was promised under the so-called Panmunjom Declaration -- referring to the first summit between Chairman Kim Jong-un and President Moon Jae-in on April 27.
While critics have pointed out that Pyongyang is yet to take concrete steps towards its main promise of denuclearization, steps such as facilitating border communications are seen as a valuable element of wider peace efforts following decades of hostilities.
"As the western communication line is fully recovered and normalized as part of efforts to enforce the Panmunjom Declaration, this would practically contribute to the two Koreas' efforts to dial down tensions and build trust," a ministry official was quoted as saying by local news agency Yonhap.
The restoration of the hotline, which was severed amid tensions in 2016, required an exemption from the United Nations Security Council, because strict sanctions against North Korea remain in place. The work needed the South to supply equipment which might otherwise have raised concerns.
Future inter-Korean military plans are set to include reestablishing their eastern hotline and moving artillery units from the border.
The North has also been in talks this week with the U.S. to return the remains of American soldiers who fought in the 1950-53 Korean War.
Kim had agreed to do so "immediately" when he met with U.S. President Donald Trump on June 12.