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North Korea falters hopes for summit, end-of-war declaration


SEOUL – North Korea is reportedly considering holding a summit meeting with South Korea and officially declaring the end of the Korean War if the South manages to restore confidence with it, the state’s official news agency reported on Saturday. North, citing the sister of its leader, Kim Jong-UN.

Mr. Kim met South Korean President Moon Jae-in three times in 2018. But inter-Korean relations have cooled since Mr. Kim’s diplomacy with former President Donald J. Trump collapsed in early 2019 without an agreement on the end of the Northern War. nuclear weapons programs and the lifting of sanctions against the country.

In recent months, Moon has repeatedly urged the North to engage in dialogue, hoping to get the peace process on the divided Korean Peninsula – its main foreign policy initiative – back on track before its end. single five-year term in May. Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Moon reiterated his proposed declaration ending the Korean War.

Mr Moon insists that if all the main participants in the war – the two Koreas, the United States and China – together make such a declaration of an end to the war, it could build confidence in the Korean peninsula and help the North to move towards denuclearization. He considers the declaration of the end of the war as a “political” gesture of confidence before negotiating a legally binding peace treaty. The fighting was interrupted by a truce in 1953, leaving the peninsula technically in a state of war.

“When the parties involved in the Korean War unite and proclaim the end of the war, I believe we can make irreversible progress in denuclearization and usher in an era of complete peace,” Moon said.

On Saturday, Mr. Kim’s sister Kim Yo-jong appeared to stir up Mr. Moon’s hopes.

She said that if the South restored mutual trust between the two Koreas, “several issues to improve relations,” including the declaration of end of war and an inter-Korean summit, could “see a meaningful and successful solution. one by one at an early date, ”according to an English-language dispatch from the North Korean Central News Agency. Ms. Kim is her brother’s spokesperson on issues related to South Korea and the United States.

Ms Kim did not explain how South Korea could restore mutual trust, except to reiterate that it must end a “hostile policy” towards the North. Ms Kim also slammed a comment by Mr Moon after South Korea successfully tested its first submarine-launched ballistic missile this month as part of its efforts to counter the growing missile and nuclear threat. North. Mr. Moon called the development of South Korean missiles “a strong deterrent against North Korean provocations.”

Mr. Moon had applied “double standards,” Ms. Kim said, calling the northern missile tests a “provocation” while justifying the southern missile development as an act of deterrence.

Ms Kim also reminded South Korea of ​​statements she made in August, when she said peace could only take root on the peninsula when South Korea and the United States end their joint military exercises and that US troops and weapons will be withdrawn from the south.

Mr. Moon’s office did not immediately respond to Ms. Kim’s statement.

While Ms Kim’s statement on Saturday was one of the most conciliatory in the North in recent years, it was worded in vague terms and cautions.

Ms. Kim “once again shows how skilled she is in the art of psycho-manipulation,” throwing in front of South Korea “all the things Moon desperately desires before her term expires next May,” said Lee Sung-yoon, a North Korean expert at Fletcher. School at Tufts University.

Mr Kim had promised to travel to Seoul for a summit meeting when he met Mr Moon in Pyongyang in September 2018, but he did not follow through on that commitment.

Another Kim-Moon summit before the South Korean leader’s resignation in May is highly unlikely, given the North’s extreme caution against meetings with foreigners during the pandemic, Korea expert Lee Byong-chul said. from the North at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul. The North’s real goal may be to get help from South Korea as a reward for starting negotiations for a possible summit, he said.

But Mr Moon and Mr Kim could meet in Beijing next February and join the leaders of China and the United States in a declaration of end of war if China brings them together at its 2022 Winter Olympics. said Cheong Seong-chang, director of the North Korean Studies Center at the Sejong Institute in South Korea.

Still, Mr. Cheong said, “It is not wise to read Kim Yo-jong’s conciliatory remarks too much and become overly optimistic.”