South, North Korea set up direct hotline between leaders

TOKYO, South Korea and North Korea on Friday set up a telephone line between their leaders, enabling direct dialogue between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The direct hotline was established between Seoul’s presidential office and the office of North Korea’s state affairs commission, which is headed by Kim.

Presidential officials have said direct communication between the countries’ leaders may help further ease tension on the Korean Peninsula, noting many cross-border conflicts between the two Koreas in the past may have partly been caused by misunderstanding or a lack of communication. The Koreas technically remain at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

The agreement on a new hotline, the first of its kind connecting the leaders of the two Koreas, came early last month when Moon’s top security adviser Chung Eui-yong traveled to Pyongyang for an unprecedented meeting with the North Korean leader.

There, Kim agreed to hold a bilateral summit with the South Korean president, as well as United States President Donald Trump.

The Moon-Kim meeting will be held next Friday. It is expected to be followed by the first-ever US-North Korea summit in May or early June. The upcoming inter-Korean summit will be the third of its kind after two summits held in 2000 and 2007.

It will be held on the South Korean side of the joint security area inside the heavily fortified demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, making Kim the first North Korean leader to step on South Korean soil since the end of the Korean War.

Source: Kuwait News Agency