Koreas Set to Announce Official End to War

Koreas Set to Announce Official End to WarKoreas Set to Announce Official End to War

North and South Korea are in talks to announce a permanent end to the officially declared military conflict between the two countries, daily newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed South Korean official.

Ahead of a summit next week between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, lawmakers from the neighboring states were thought to be negotiating the details of a joint statement that could outline an end to the confrontation, CNBC reported.

Kim and Moon could also discuss returning the heavily-fortified demilitarized zone separating them to its original state, the newspaper said.

Pyongyang and Seoul have technically been at war since the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended with a truce—and not a peace treaty. Geopolitical tensions have occasionally flared up since the armistice, although to date both countries have managed to avoid another devastating conflict.

A successful summit between the Koreas later this month could help pave the way for a meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump. The US president and North Korean leader are poised to hold talks in late May or June, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

  Committed to Denuclearizing

South Korean security officials may visit North Korea ahead of the first summit since 2007 if more high-level talks are necessary, a Seoul official said on Tuesday, with the South hoping the North will reaffirm its commitment to denuclearize.

After meeting North Korean in March, South Korea’s national security adviser and spy chief said Kim was committed to denuclearizing the Korean peninsula and had expressed a willingness to meet US President Donald Trump.

The April 27 meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim is scheduled for the border village of Panmunjom.

“Even though our special envoys confirmed his denuclearization will, it is entirely different if the two leaders confirm it directly among themselves and put that into text,” Moon’s chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, told reporters. “We expect the summit will confirm the denuclearization will [of North Korea].”

Reclusive North Korea is pursuing nuclear and missile programs in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

It defends the programs as a necessary deterrent against a possible US invasion, prompting bellicose rhetoric from both sides. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea but denies any invasion plans.

But tensions have eased in recent months, coinciding with North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics held in the South in February.

  Joint Statement Possible

Seoul and Pyongyang are discussing the wording of a possible joint statement to be released at the summit, Im said.

He added it will likely focus on issues of denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula, and an improvement in relations not only between the two Koreas but also with other countries including the United States.

Any joint statement is not expected to include economic co-operation with the North, Im said.

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