The Latest: UN leader welcomes Koreas' communications link

AP

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People watch a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's New Year's speech, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. North Korea announced Wednesday that it will reopen a cross-border communication channel with South Korea, officials in Seoul said, another sign of easing animosity between the rivals after a year that saw the North conduct nuclear bomb and missile tests and both the Koreas and Washington issue threats of war. The letters on the screen read: "Welcomed South Korea's suggestions." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) The Latest on North Korea's decision to restore a key cross-border communication channel with rival South Korea (all times local):

3:30 a.m.

The U.N. is welcoming the reopening of a key cross-border communication channel between North Korea and South Korea.

A spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that "it is always a positive development to have dialogue" between the Koreas.

Spokesman Farhan Haq also notes that the U.N. remains committed to seeing the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons and hopes "enhanced diplomatic initiatives" will help achieve that goal.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reopened the communication link Wednesday for the first time in nearly two years as the rivals explored the possibility of talks.

On Tuesday, South Korea offered high-level discussions with the North to find ways to cooperate on next month's Winter Olympics in the South and discuss other inter-Korean issues.

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6:30 p.m.

China has welcomed moves by North and South Korea to use next month's Winter Olympics in the South as an opportunity for talks, saying it hopes the rivals will try to "meet each other halfway."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Wednesday that China hopes "all sides concerned will seize this positive turn of events."

South Korea on Tuesday offered high-level talks with North Korea to find ways to cooperate on the Pyeongchang Olympics. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday that he was willing to send a delegation to the Olympics.

Kim also said he has a "nuclear button" on his office desk, a fiery threat that President Donald Trump responded to by boasting he has a bigger and more powerful button than Kim.

Commenting on Trump's tweet, Geng urged countries to "maintain restraint" and say things that are "conducive to alleviating the situation."

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3:50 p.m.

South Korea says it has begun preliminary contacts with North Korea on a reopened cross-border communication system.

The South's Unification Ministry says the two Koreas were communicating via the channel at the border village of Panmunjom on Wednesday.

The statement says officials were first trying to examine whether the communicating lines were working well.

North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un reopened the channel earlier Wednesday, a day after South Korea offered talks on how to cooperate with the North during next month's Winter Olympics in the South.

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2:40 p.m.

South Korea says it is welcoming North Korea's decision to restore a key cross-border communication channel.

The South's Unification Ministry said Wednesday it will try to use the communication channel at the border village of Panmunjom to discuss its offer to hold high-level talks on how to cooperate with the North during next month's Winter Olympics in the South.

Seoul on Tuesday proposed the rivals meet at Panmunjom on Jan. 9, but Pyongyang hasn't responded to its offer.

The North's decision to restore the Panmunjom communication channel was announced by a senior Pyongyang official who appeared on state TV and said the decision was made by leader Kim Jong Un.

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