2021-09-25 20:26:44 North Korea Dangles Hopes for Summit and End-of-War Declaration
North Korea Dangles Hopes for Summit and End-of-War Declaration
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea would consider holding a summit meeting with South Korea and declaring an official end to the Korean War if the South could reestablish trust with it, according to the North’s official news agency, citing Kim Jong-sister. un’s
In 2018, Mr. Kim met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in three times. However, inter-Korean relations have deteriorated since Mr. Kim’s diplomacy with former President Donald J. Trump collapsed in early 2019 without an agreement on ending the North’s nuclear weapons programs and lifting sanctions.
Mr. Moon has repeatedly urged the North to engage in dialogue in recent months, hoping to restart the peace process on the divided Korean Peninsula — his main foreign policy initiative — before his single, five-year term expires in May. Mr. Moon reiterated his proposal for a declaration to end the Korean War during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
Mr. Moon is adamant that if all major players in the war — the two Koreas, the United States, and China — issue such an end-of-war declaration, it will boost confidence on the Korean Peninsula and help the North move toward denuclearization. He sees the end-of-war declaration as a “political” gesture to build trust before negotiating a legally binding peace treaty. Fighting ceased in 1953 with a truce, leaving the peninsula technically at war.
“I believe we can make irreversible progress in denuclearization and usher in an era of complete peace if the parties involved in the Korean War stand together and declare an end to the war,” Mr. Moon said.
Mr. Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, appeared to bolster Mr. Moon’s optimism on Saturday.
According to an English dispatch from the North’s Korean Central News Agency, she said that if the South restored mutual trust between the two Koreas, “several issues for improving relations, ” including the end-of-war declaration and an inter-Korean summit, could “see meaningful and successful solutions one by one at an early date.”
Ms. Kim serves as her brother’s spokeswoman on South Korean and US-related issues.
Ms. Kim did not elaborate on how South Korea could reestablish mutual trust, other than to say that it must abandon its “hostile policy” toward the North. Ms. Kim also chastised Mr. Moon for making a remark after South Korea successfully tested its first submarine-launched ballistic missile this month as part of its efforts to counter the North’s growing missile and nuclear threat. Mr. Moon described the South Korean missile development as a “strong deterrent against North Korean provocations.”
Mr. Moon had used “double standards” by calling the North’s missile tests “provocations” while justifying the South’s missile development as a form of deterrence, Ms. Kim claimed.
Ms. Kim also reminded South Korea of her August statements, in which she stated that peace on the peninsula could only be established if South Korea and the United States ended joint military exercises and withdrawn American troops and weapons from the South.
Mr. Moon’s office did not respond immediately to Ms. Kim’s statement.
Ms. Kim’s statement on Saturday was one of the most conciliatory from the North in recent years, but it was couched in ambiguous language and caveats.
Her Saturday statement was, she said, “just my personal opinion.”
Ms. Kim “demonstrates once again her skill in the art of psychological manipulation,” dangling before South Korea “all things Moon desperately desires before his term expires next May,” according to Lee Sung-yoon, a North Korea expert at Tufts University’s Fletcher School.
When Mr. Kim met Mr. Moon in Pyongyang in September 2018, he promised to return to Seoul for another summit meeting, but he has not followed through on that promise.
Another Kim-Moon summit before the South Korean leader steps down in May is highly unlikely, according to Lee Byong-chul, a North Korea expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.
According to him, the North’s true goal may be to extract aid from South Korea as a reward for starting negotiations for a possible summit.
However, if China brings them together at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Mr. Moon and Mr. Kim could meet in Beijing next February and join the leaders of China and the United States for an end-of-war declaration, according to Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute in South Korea.
Mr. Cheong cautioned, however, that “it is not wise to read too much into Kim Yo-conciliatory jong’s remarks and become overly optimistic.”