North, South Korea to inaugurate presidential hotline

March 7 (UPI) — A presidential hotline could soon be established between the two leaders of the Koreas, an unprecedented move for both sides.

The phone line connecting Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in is being pursued as part of an agreement reached Monday during inter-Korea talks in Pyongyang, South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported Wednesday.

The line will be established within 50 days, or before the April inter-Korea summit that is to take place between Moon and Kim, according to the report.

The phone could sit on Moon’s desk in his office at the presidential Blue House and is part of Moon’s larger plan to organize a “preparatory committee” for the next round of political talks on a “peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula,” according to the president’s office.

Chief Presidential Secretary Im Jong-seok could lead the efforts for the new policies.

Im, 51, served a prison term in a previous era after arranging an illegal trip to Pyongyang for a left-wing South Korean activist in 1989. But he is now one of the most influential policy makers in Seoul.

Hotlines have been established before, during the presidency of Kim Dae-jung, following his summit with leader Kim Jong Il on June 15, 2000. The phone line was not directly connected to the president, however.

A hotline continued to work during the presidency of Roh Moo-hyun, when Seoul’s spy agency and North Korea’s Workers’ Party unification front office were directly connected to deliver messages from the highest levels of government.

During former President Lee Myung-bak’s term in office, the hotline was suspended following South Korea sanctions against the North, according to local television network JTBC.

Yang Moo-jin, an analyst with the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told JTBC the hotline will prevent accidents and conflicts, while easing tensions on the peninsula.

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