Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Madagascar political crisis: top court orders formation of unity government

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Ireland's abortion referendum

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Weinstein in court; Ireland abortion vote; Italy's populist takeover

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Sugar and spice: The flavours of the French Caribbean

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

The French are so rude! Or are they?

Read more

REVISITED

Video: After key battle, Syrian town of Kobane looks to the future

Read more

ENCORE!

The writing's on the wall: Revolutionary posters from May 68

Read more

REPORTERS

'We heard there might be a civil war': May 68 seen from abroad

Read more

#THE 51%

U.S. mid-terms: Record number of women running and winning primaries

Read more

Asia-pacific

North and South Korean leaders open historic hotline ahead of summit

© AFP photo / Ed Jones | The Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2018-04-20

North and South Korea installed a telephone hotline between their leaders Friday as they prepare for a rare summit next week aimed at resolving the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang.

South Korea's presidential office said a successful test call was conducted on the hotline between Seoul's presidential Blue House and Pyongyang's powerful State Affairs Commission.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un plan to make their first telephone conversation sometime before their face-to-face meeting next Friday at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

South Korean officials say the hotline, which will be maintained after the summit, will help facilitate dialogue and reduce misunderstanding during times of tension.

"The historic direct telephone line between the leaders of the South and North has been connected a short while ago," South Korean presidential official Youn Kun Young said in a news briefing.

"The test call went on for 4 minutes and 19 seconds starting at 3:41 p.m. with (officials from) both sides speaking to each other ... The connection was smooth and the voice quality was very good. It was like calling the next door," he said.

Kim, a third-generation dictator, is the chairman of the State Affairs Commission, North Korea's supreme decision-making institution that was created in 2016 to replace the National Defense Commission he inherited from his father. The new body includes the country's most powerful individuals in state, military and party affairs and is seen as crucial for Kim to consolidate his power and centralize governance.

The meeting between Kim and Moon will only be the third summit between the rivals since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War and could prove to be significant in the global diplomatic push to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. A separate summit between Kim and President Donald Trump is anticipated in May or June.

North Korea in January reopened a border hotline between the countries after nearly two years of radio silence as the Koreas resumed dialogue following a period of animosity surrounding the North's nuclear weapons and missile tests. The revival of the hotline at Panmunjom came days after Kim in a New Year's speech proposed negotiations with the South on easing tensions and the North's participation in February's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

North Korea sent hundreds of people to the southern games, including Kim's sister, who expressed her brother's desire to meet with Moon for a summit. South Korean officials later brokered a summit between Kim and Trump.

North Korea's abrupt diplomatic outreach comes after a flurry of weapons tests that marked 2017, including the underground detonation of an alleged thermonuclear warhead and three launches of developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to strike the U.S. mainland.

While South Korean and U.S. officials have said Kim is likely trying to save his broken economy from heavy sanctions, some analysts see him as entering the negotiations from a position of strength after having declared his nuclear force as complete.

Seoul, which shuttled between Pyongyang and Washington to set up the meetings, says Kim has expressed genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons. But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of "denuclearization" that bears no resemblance to the American definition, vowing to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its troops from the peninsula and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

(AP)

Date created : 2018-04-20

  • USA

    Trump says will quit North Korea talks if not 'fruitful'

    Read more

  • Korean Peninsula

    Rival Koreas kick off high-level talks ahead of April summit

    Read more

  • CHINA - NORTH KOREA

    North Korea's Kim pledges 'denuclearisation' in China visit

    Read more

COMMENT(S)