North Korea: Historic phone line opened with South Korea | News | DW | 20.04.2018
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North Korea: Historic phone line opened with South Korea

For the first time in history the two Koreas have opened a direct hotline between their leaders. South Korea's Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are due to meet next week.

North Korea and South Korea opened a direct phone line between their two respective leaders on Friday, in preparation for a summit between the president of the South, Moon Jae In, and North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un next week.

It's the first time in history the leaders of the two nations have been directly connected and it comes amid a flurry of diplomacy on the peninsula.

Read more: South Korea says North committed to 'complete denuclearization' of peninsula

Smooth connection

South Korea's presidential office said:

  • A 4-minute-and-19-second test call between Seoul's presidential Blue House and Pyongyang's powerful State Affairs Commission went well.
  • "The connection was smooth and the voice quality was very good. It was like calling next door."
  • The hotline will help facilitate dialogue and reduce misunderstanding during times of tension.
  • The two leaders plan to make their first call sometime before their face-to-face meeting next Friday.
  • The hotline will be maintained after the summit.

Read more: CIA boss Mike Pompeo held secret meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: US media

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Date for inter-Korean summit announced

Reaffirmed commitment: In the past, the two sides have communicated through a phone line at the Panmunjom border village, but the line has often been shut down. The use of phone lines was championed by late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung as part of his Sunshine policy of re-engagement with the North. The new hotline reaffirms the North’s commitment to upcoming peace talks.

Upcoming meeting: After years of increasingly strained relations, driven by a rapidly advancing nuclear weapons program, the North has begun a whirlwind of diplomatic contact. Moon and Kim will have their first face-to-face meeting next Friday — the third such meeting between the neighbors since the end of the Korean war in 1953. Kim will later meet with US President Donald Trump, possibly in June.

Issues to be discussed: The focus of the meeting will largely be on denuclearization as well as the possibility of replacing the existing ceasefire arrangement with a lasting peace agreement. According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, the pair will discuss the possibility of both sides "withdrawing heavy weapons and guard posts" from the demilitarized zone. What is not on the agenda, to the consternation of many in the South, is Pyongyang's dreadful record on human rights.

Read more: Is the world ignoring North Korea's 'crimes against humanity'?

aw/rt (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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