SEOUL - South Korea and China have agreed to set up a military hotline between the two defense ministries.
The deal was reached Wednesday during a meeting in Seoul between South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-goo and his Chinese counterpart, Chang Wanquan.
South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said Thursday that the two sides would move quickly to establish the communication channel.
“The two countries will work toward opening the hotline as soon as possible to strengthen strategic communications between the two military authorities,” Kim told reporters.
Once the hotline is established, Seoul expects to have communications with Beijing on stabilization of the Korean peninsula and the North’s provocations, Kim added.
The hotline is expected to open as early as the first half of this year.
With the new agreement, Beijing would be the third country to establish a military hotline with Seoul, following Japan and the United States. The hotline is meant to prevent accidental military clashes and to be used as a channel to discuss security issues.
Lee Chang-hyeong of the South Korean-run Korea Institute for Defense Analysis said the biggest takeaway from the Wednesday meeting is that the two sides are incorporating defense relations into the overall collaboration between the two sides.
“The relationship between South Korea and China has developed in various areas such as politics, economy and people-to-people exchange,” said Lee.
Lee said he expected the establishment of the military hotline would help defense cooperation develop on par with other areas of bilateral relations.
During the Wednesday meeting, Defense Ministers Han and Chang reaffirmed their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and agreed to cooperate in dealing with the North’s nuclear issue.
Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.