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Koreas open hotline between leaders

A direct telephone line between the leaders of South and North Koreas on Friday ahead of their summit a week later.

One end of the hotline is Cheong Wa Dae, and the other end will be at Pyongyang’s State Affairs Commission, of which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is the chairman.

Working-level officials were to make a test call on Friday, a Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters.

President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim are expected to have their first telephone conversation via the hotline next week.

File photo of leaders of South and North Korea respectively on phone (Yonhap)
File photo of leaders of South and North Korea respectively on phone (Yonhap)

The two Koreas agreed during South Korean special envoys’ visit to Pyongyang early last month to set up a hotline between the leaders, and have Moon and Kim hold their first telephone conversation before the summit.

According to another Cheong Wa Dae official, it has not been decided yet whether National Security Office Chief Chung Eui-yong and National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon will visit Pyongyang again to discuss details of the summit.

“They’re not visiting the North this weekend,” the official told reporters on Thursday.

About the role of a situation room the presidential office plans to open near the summit venue at the border village of Panmunjeom, the official said it will be used to monitor rehearsals for the summit “once a perfect scenario comes out of the inter-Korean working-level talks.”

The third inter-Korean summit will be held at the House of Peace on the southern side of Panmunjeom. The situation room is scheduled to open at the nearby House of Freedom on Tuesday to handle various situations during the summit.

Six senior officials -- Chung; Suh; Moon’s chief of staff Im Jong-seok; Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon; Defense Minister Song Young-moo; and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha -- will accompany Moon to the summit.

It has not been decided whether South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook and the North Korean leader’s wife Ri Sol-ju will accompany their husbands to the summit, the Cheong Wa Dae official said.

The South was preparing a gift for Kim Jong-un, he said.

The official also said Moon holds fast to the principle of seeking a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea, although he didn’t mention the requirements one-by-one when he said on Thursday that Pyongyang has expressed a willingness for “complete denuclearization.”

Some have questioned whether Moon’s idea of the North’s denuclearization was missing the conditions of “verifiable” and “irreversible” sought by the US.

By Kim So-hyun (
Korea Herald Youtube