North and South Korea representatives meet to discuss re-establishing hotline

North and South Korea representatives meet to discuss re-establishing hotline

Today, North and South Korean officials will discuss establishing a direct hotline between Pyongyang and Seoul ahead of the April

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Photo: AFP-JIJI

Today, North and South Korean officials will discuss establishing a direct hotline between Pyongyang and Seoul ahead of the April 27 Inter-Korea summit and the historic meeting between Kim Jong Un and US President Trump in May.

Pyongyang   the existing hotline in February 2016 in response to Seoul’s ending cooperation on a shared industrial zone after Pyongyang’s nuclear tests. In January, Kim re-opened the phone line, which operates in the demilitarised zone, for the first time in two years.

However, this new hotline will run directly to the two leaders’ offices—a historic first. It provides an opportunity for both to de-escalate future tensions directly rather than rely on the existing indirect hotline at the border.

The direct hotline represents a clear win for President Moon Jae-in’s oft-criticised diplomatic engagement of the North. Beijing will likely welcome the move as an indication Pyongyang is serious about the upcoming summits, while Washington is likely to remain sceptical of the North’s motives. Either way, expect the status of the hotline to be used as a new barometer of inter-Korea relations in future.

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