North and South Korea set up hotline between leaders


The declaration, long sought by the US, is the latest apparent olive branch from the regime and comes less than a week before Mr Kim meets South Korean leader Moon Jae-in for a summit, and ahead of a much-anticipated encounter with US President Donald Trump.

North Korea in January reopened a border hotline between the countries after almost two years of radio silence as the Koreas resumed dialogue following a period of animosity surrounding the North's nuclear weapons and missile tests.

Youn Kun-young, director for government situation room at the Blue House, told media that the hotline was tested at 1541 KST and that two officials from both sides made a phone call for 4 minutes and 19 seconds.

But both of those meetings ultimately went nowhere, with the signs of rapprochement crumbling only to be replaced by threats of war amid occasional volleys of gunfire across the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two countries.

The upcoming summit will mark the first time a North Korean leader has set foot inside South Korean territory in decades.

Their meeting is expected to be followed by the first-ever US-North Korea summit in May or early June.

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Pompeo raised the question of the three Americans in his meeting with Kim, a US official said.

Amid criticism of his approach, Trump has sought to seize credit for what he has framed as significant progress already - forcing Beijing to clamp down on worldwide trade embargoes against North Korea, convincing Kim to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea and luring the North Korean leader to the negotiating table.

The official was briefing reporters on the ministry's position related to what would be the third inter-Korean summit.

In November, it said it had successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the whole of the continental United States.

The two Korean leaders prepare to meet next week in what is seen as paving the way for the US-North Korea summit.

Trump, who wants Kim's regime to get rid of its nuclear weapons, hailed the news in a tweet. "They have not attached any conditions that the US can not accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea".

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The detente started with inter-Korean talks to discuss the DPRK's dispatch of athletes, artists and political delegations to the South Korea-hosted Winter Olympics in February.

"To Kim, denuclearization applies to the whole peninsula, which includes the South", David Maxwell, retired US Army Special Forces colonel and a fellow at the Institute of Korean American Studies, told CNN in March, prior to Moon's statement on Thursday.

Americans - not to mention hundreds of millions of South Koreans, Japanese and others in Asia - are anxious about Kim's military buildup.

Deva has advocated the case for dialogue without pre-conditions and described President Trump's decision to accept Kim's invitation to talks as "an unprecedented act of diplomacy".

For decades, the US and South Korea have pushed for denuclearization in North Korea.

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