Communication issues ahead of Koreas summit

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea

North and South Korea on Saturday held talks over establishing a telephone hotline between their leaders and other communication issues ahead of a rare summit between the rivals later this month.

The closed-door talks between working-level officials at a border village were part of preparatory discussions to set up the April 27 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The meeting, only the third summit between the Koreas since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, could prove to be significant in the global diplomatic push to resolve the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear program.

A summit between Kim and President Donald Trump is anticipated in May.

Before Saturday’s meeting, South Korea didn’t specify what would be discussed other than the hotline between the leaders. The Koreas have agreed not to disclose the contents of their preparatory talks until they reach an agreement, Moon’s office said. The Koreas agreed on the date of the summit in a high-level meeting last week.

South Korea, which has shuttled between Pyongyang and Washington to set up the talks, said Kim had expressed willingness to talk about giving up nuclear weapons during his upcoming meetings with Moon and Trump. The North has yet to officially confirm such intent or Kim’s interest in meeting Trump.

Kim last month made a surprise visit to Beijing and met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, a move widely seen as strengthening the North’s position ahead of his talks with Moon and Trump. China, North Korea’s only major ally and main economic lifeline, has been calling for a “dual suspension” of North Korean nuclear and missile activities in return for the United States and South Korea suspending their large-scale military exercises.

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