Koreas set up first hotline between leaders

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SEOUL, APR 20,
North and South Korea installed the first-ever telephone hotline between their leaders on 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 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 was 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 next door,” he said.
Mr. 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 Defence 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 Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon will only be the third summit between the rivals since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
A separate summit between Mr. Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump is anticipated in May or June.

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