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US and North Korea have no diplomatic ties, but still have means to discuss US soldiers

pink phone. New York mission. Swedish diplomat. North and South Korean hotlines.

United States and Recluse north korea Although the two countries do not have diplomatic relations, they still have ways of contacting each other. A U.S. official said Wednesday that the U.S. government has reached out to North Korea in an attempt to discuss U.S. troops who stormed into North Korea while inspecting the border area this week.North Korea has yet to respond, US says

Here’s a look at the possible channels your rivals could use to discuss Pvt. Travis King is the first American to be detained in North Korea in nearly five years.


pink phone

One of the most reliable ways for the US to contact North Korea is through the pale pink touch-tone phone at the US-led United Nations Command in the Korean border village of Panmunjom, where Dr. King broke into North Korea on Tuesday. Telephone lines connect the liaisons on both sides, but the distance between the liaisons’ offices is said to be only 40 meters (130 feet).

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on Wednesday that the Pentagon had reached out to officials from the Korean People’s Army in North Korea but “has not yet received a response to that communication.”

Miller declined to elaborate. But observers say the US likely used a “pink phone.”

The United Nations Command tweeted in January that it had maintained “24/7” contact with the North Korean military throughout 2022.

“We conversed on the ‘pink phone’, exchanged 98 messages, and checked the line twice a day for timely and meaningful exchange of information,” the report said.

Retired South Korean brigadier general Moon Seong-muk said North Korean liaison officers did not appear to be responding to calls made by UN forces on orders from higher ups.

Moon said UN officials had used megaphones when North Korea previously cut phone lines.

King’s exact motive for the border crossing is unknown. He was convicted of assault in South Korea and could be discharged from the military and face other penalties.


New York Mission

Miller said the US maintains many channels for sending messages to North Korea.

One of them is North Korea’s UN mission to New York, which serves as a sort of alternative embassy since the two countries do not have embassies in each other’s capitals, offering both sides an option for back-route negotiations.

The mission played a key role in working out the details of a high-stakes summit between North Korean leaders. Kim Jong-un And from 2018 to 2019, then-US President Donald Trump. At the outset of their second summit in Vietnam, Kim and Trump both said they supported opening a U.S. liaison office in Pyongyang, but the idea was shelved after a diplomatic breakdown.


Embassy of Sweden

Sweden, which has ties to North Korea and has an embassy in Pyongyang, provides consular services to US citizens, including those detained by North Korea on charges of illegal immigration and espionage.

Miller said State Department officials are contacting Sweden about the King Jr. case.

But the mediator role for Sweden could be complicated by the fact that Pyongyang-based Swedish diplomats reportedly have not returned to North Korea since leaving the country in 2020 due to severe COVID-19 restrictions. Still, experts say the North Korean embassy in Sweden could serve as a means of communication.


Other hotlines

Rival South Korea has its own phone and fax channels for setting up meetings, arranging border crossings and avoiding accidental military clashes. However, North Korea has not responded to South Korea’s attempts to exchange messages through these channels since April, when hostility to North Korea’s nuclear program was on the rise.

Kim Yeol-soo, an expert with South Korea’s Korea Military Research Institute, said contact could be made through a hotline between the two intelligence agencies. This line was reportedly previously active when the other line stopped. South Korea’s foreign ministry said Thursday. Seoul Washington contacted without giving details.



Expert Kim said North Korea will not respond to U.S. pressures until the King investigation is complete, which is likely to take at least two weeks. After the investigation, he said he expected negotiations between the US State Department and North Korea’s foreign ministry to be lengthy.

President Moon said that while King’s detention could provide North Korea with a means to extract diplomatic concessions from the United States, it would be difficult to hold a low-ranking soldier long term without high-profile information about the United States.

“If he expresses a desire to return, it will be a burden for North Korea to detain him, but they will still try to reach a deal with the United States and get what they want,” said Moon, an analyst at the South Korea Institute for National Strategic Studies, now based in Seoul.

In the past, North Korea has released US civilian detainees after prominent Americans, including the former president, visited Pyongyang to win their freedom. Mr. Kim said similar measures may be necessary in Mr. King’s case.

Retired Lieutenant General Jeong In-beom, who commanded South Korea’s Special Forces, said King’s arrival in North Korea was embarrassing to the United States, noting that it was the same day the United States took major steps to bolster its security commitments to South Korea. He deployed a nuclear submarine to South Korea for the first time in 40 years and held the first meeting of a bilateral nuclear talks body with South Korea. North Korea test-fired two missiles on Wednesday in apparent response.

“Nuclear submarine news and the Nuclear Advisory Board were buried by him,” Chong said. US and North Korea have no diplomatic ties, but still have means to discuss US soldiers

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