China, S.Korea plan defence chiefs’ hotline: report

SEOUL: South Korea and China are seeking to set up a hotline between their defence ministers to help prevent accidental sea or air clashes, according to a report.The issue is expected to be on the agenda during defence ministers’ talks this summer, Yonhap news agency quoted an unidentified military official as saying.A defence ministry spokesman told AFP that South Korean Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin is likely to visit China in July and hold talks with his counterpart Liang Guanglie.

But he stressed that details including the agenda had not yet been fixed.The two countries set up telephone hotlines in 2008 between their navies and air forces to help prevent accidental clashes, but a similar line between the defence chiefs has yet to be established.South Korea and China have also discussed a plan to exchange major-level officers, Yonhap quoted the official as saying.However, this plan has hit a snag since Beijing asked Seoul to discontinue a similar exchange programme with Taiwan, it said.Seoul switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1992 but has maintained links with Taiwan.China has diplomatic relations with both North and South Korea. It is the North’s sole major ally and provides the bulk of food and fuel supplies to the impoverished state.China failed to join international condemnation of the North’s alleged torpedo attack on a South Korean warship near the disputed sea border in the Yellow Sea in March last year.Forty-six sailors were killed but Pyongyang denies any responsibility for the sinking. – Yahoonews