North Korea says hope is alive for peace, summit with the South

File photo of South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in attending the first joint repatriation ceremony for Korean War remains at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam near Honolulu, Hawaii, US September 22, 2021. — Reuters pic
File photo of South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in attending the first joint repatriation ceremony for Korean War remains at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam near Honolulu, Hawaii, US September 22, 2021. — Reuters pic

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SEOUL, Sept 25 — North Korea is willing to consider another inter-Korean summit if mutual respect between the rivals can be assured, state news agency KCNA reported today, citing Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The comment comes just a day after North Korea urged the United States and South Korea to abandon what it called their hostile policy and double standards towards it before formal talks can be held on ending the 1950-53 Korean War.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice not a peace treaty, leaving US-led UN forces technically still at war with North Korea.

The question of formally ending the war has been complicated by North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“I believe only when fairness and mutual respect can be maintained smooth communication between the North and the South can take place,” Kim Yo Jong said.

“Issues such as meaningful and timely declaration of an end to the war, reopening the joint liaison office and a summit meeting between the North and South can be resolved in the near future through constructive discussion.”

Addressing the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in repeated a call for a formal end to the war but later said time is running out to achieve such progress before his term ends in May.

North Korea for decades has sought an end to the war but the United States has been reluctant to agree unless North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons.

Kim, who is a powerful confidant of her brother the leader, said she noted with interest the intense discussion in the South over the renewed prospect of a formal declaration of the end of the Korean War.

“I felt that the atmosphere of hope to restore strained inter-Korean relations and achieve peaceful stability seems irrepressibly intense in South Korea,” she said.

“We are no different in wishing for the same.”

Expectations were raised that a declaration on ending the war, even if not an actual treaty, would be made during a historic summit between then US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jung Un in Singapore in 2018.

But that possibility, and the momentum that the two leaders generated over three meetings came to nothing. Talks have been stalled since 2019.

U.S. President Joe Biden said in his own UN address that he wanted “sustained diplomacy” to resolve the crisis surrounding North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.

North Korea has rejected US overtures to engage in dialogue and the head of the UN atomic watchdog said this week that its nuclear programme was going “full steam ahead”. — Reuters

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