A senior official responsible for handling ties with South Korea, Ri Son-gwon, revealed the border hotline at Panmunjom would be back in use later in the day from 3 p.m., Pyongyang time (0630 GMT).

North Korea had refused to answer South Korean attempts to communicate since the two sides severed all cooperation nearly two years ago due to the North’s development of nuclear weapons.

But the reclusive state’s leader Kim Jong-un made a surprise New Year’s Day offer to send a delegation to this February’s Winter Olympics in the South.

Seoul then suggested high-level talks at Panmunjom next week, while South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s positive response has been “highly appreciated” by Kim, according to Ri via state-run television.

“We will make close contact with South Korea in a sincere and faithful manner,” Ri said.

But he also said improving relations depends on the two Koreas, implying Seoul’s ally the United States is being left out of the equation -- with North Korea consistently blaming the U.S. for driving nuclear tensions.

Pyongyang and Washington have continued to exchange threats this week despite the prospect of North-South dialogue.

Anadolu Agency