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UPDATE 1: N. Korea not answering direct hotline with South: gov't


A day after high-level governmental talks between North and South Korea were called off, Pyongyang on Wednesday did not answer two calls made by the South on the direct communication line that runs through the truce village Panmunjom, the South's Unification Ministry said.

The ministry said a call was made by the South at 9 a.m. and another at 4 p.m., but the North did not pick up the phone.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency quoted an unidentified South Korean official as saying "the fact that none of the calls was answered" could be an indicator the North decided to disconnect the line.

He added that such a development means there is presently no direct way to contact Pyongyang because three military hotlines that were established in the past have all been disconnected in the face of mounting tensions, Yonhap reported.

The two sides had been making arrangements through the communication line for inter-Korean governmental talks scheduled to start Wednesday.

However, the two-day talks were called off Tuesday after the sides failed to resolve differences over the level of chief delegates.

"The latest move is probably linked to the cancellation of talks late Tuesday, although there is a need to wait and see how the situation unfolds," Yonhap quoted a ministry source as saying.

At the talks, the two Koreas were expected to discuss two suspended business projects and other issues concerning bilateral ties.