South Korean President Moon Jae-in says North Korea’s objection to the U.S. government’s alleged “hostility” has prevented the official end to the decades-long Korean war.
A formal end to war: During a press conference in Canberra, Australia, on Monday, Moon said that the two Koreas, along with China and the U.S., have agreed to declare peace at least “in principle,” reported The Guardian.
- Moon, on his four-day visit to Australia, indicated peace talks could not progress because North Korea demands an end to “U.S. hostility” first.
- North Korea has long called for an end to the annual U.S.-South Korea military drills and the removal of the 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea, reports the New York Times.
- South Korea, which regards the presence of the U.S. soldiers as an important part of its national defense, has agreed to pay $1 billion to the U.S. government this year to keep them there.
- “We are not able to sit down for a negotiation on the declarations between South and North Korea, and those between North Korea and the United States,” Moon told the Australian press. “And we hope that talks will be initiated. We are making efforts towards that.”
- According to Moon, ending the Korean Armistice Agreement that has lasted for 70 years could prove vital in starting “negotiations for denuclearisation and peace … [on] the Korean peninsula.”
- South Korea’s Unification Minister Lee In-young echoed Moon’s call for dialogue, noting that a peace declaration could be a “turning point.”
Stuck in an armistice: The North and South Koreas technically remain at war since the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in a prolonged ceasefire that Moon has deemed to be “unstable.”
- While South Korea and the U.S. are reportedly finishing up an end of war declaration, it would require support from all parties for it to be officially implemented.
- Moon has long urged North Korea to return to the negotiating table since his administration began in 2017.
- Kim Yo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, has reportedly called Moon’s recent proposal to formally end the war an “interesting and good idea.”
- “If [South] Korea … restores sincerity in its words and actions and abandons its hostility, we would then be willing to resume close communication and engage in constructive discussions,” Kim said in September.
- Still, North Korea’s continued defiance of the sanctions imposed by the United Nations by keeping its nuclear program active has caused concern among observers.
- The Chinese government has also expressed support for a proposed peace declaration, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin recently declaring China is playing “a constructive role” in the process.
- “Ending the war state on the Korean Peninsula and replacing the armistice with a peace treaty are an important part of the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue and the shared aspiration of the international community,” Wang said in a press conference on Wednesday. “As a signatory to the Korean War Armistice Agreement, China is maintaining communication and coordination with relevant parties on the Peninsula issue.”