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Koreas to discuss establishing first hotline between leaders

The two Koreas are set to hold talks this week to install what will be the first direct hotline between their leaders, who are set to hold their first meeting in person later in the month, officials from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Friday.

The inter-Korean dialogue will be held Saturday at the joint security area (JSA) inside the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas, involving working-level officials from both sides.

Its sole purpose will be to establish a direct hotline between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which Cheong Wa Dae officials earlier said would enable "frequent" discussions between the two leaders.

The hotline, if installed, will mark the first of its kind between the two Koreas that technically remain at war.

(PxHere)
(PxHere)

Direct hotlines had existed before between the two Koreas, but they were mostly intended for use by their militaries and intelligence offices.

Also, they have all been disconnected, along with inter-Korean dialogue that came to naught while the countries' relationship hit their lowest ebb amid the North's military provocations followed by ever increasing sanctions and retaliations by the South and its allies over the past few years.

Pyongyang also staged 10 missile launches and its sixth and most powerful nuclear test so far since the latest South Korean president took office in May.

Like his conservative predecessors, Moon too voiced a need to restrain the communist state, through sanctions and pressure if necessary.

However, unlike his predecessors, Moon also voiced the need to resume dialogue with the North, insisting the only solution to the North's nuclear and missile development programs that is acceptable to his country and its people was through peaceful negotiations.

Inter-Korean dialogue resumed at the start of this year when the North decided, at the last minute, to take part in the PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games held here.

The thaw in the countries' relationship was highlighted in early March when Moon's top security adviser and chief of the National Security Office Chung Eui-yong traveled to Pyongyang for an unprecedented meeting with the North Korean leader.

In a March 5 meeting with the South Korean envoy, Kim agreed to hold what would be a third inter-Korean summit with Moon, as well as what will be the first-ever US-North Korea summit with US President Donald Trump.

A high-level dialogue held later between the two Koreas set the date for the inter-Korean summit on April 27. The date and the location of the North Korea-US summit has yet to be decided.

Saturday's meeting also follows a separate working-level dialogue held Thursday to discuss details of the April 27 summit between Moon and Kim, such as security measures and protocols for the leaders, according to Cheong Wa Dae officials.

The Koreas are set to hold at least one more round of talks on the upcoming summit, they have said. (Yonhap)

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