South Korea is weighing its options in concluding a peace treaty through the upcoming summits involving North Korea, a high-level official said Wednesday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official, who has been closely involved in the developments surrounding inter-Korean and US-North Korea talks, said that a number of possibilities for achieving a permanent peace on the peninsula are under review.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in is set to meet North Korea’s Kim Jong-un on the South’s side of the border on April 27. Kim’s meeting with US President Donald Trump is currently being arranged, but neither time nor the location for the talks have been confirmed.
“(As part of the efforts) the possibility, and means to replace the armistice with a peace regime are being considered,” the official said.
He added that such a development would require support of all parties involved, and that much discussion is needed.
The revelation follows on the heels of Trump’s comment hinting at possible talks of a peace treaty between the two Koreas. In his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, Trump said that the two Koreas are discussing “an end to the war,” and that “subject to a deal, they would certainly have my blessing.” The 1950-53 Korean War came to a halt with an armistice, rather than a peace treaty, meaning the two Koreas are technically still at war.
National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong (Yonhap)
“We (South Korea) are the directly involved party, but there are differing opinions on whether it is possible to achieve peace through a bilateral agreement. If necessary, three-way or four-way negotiations are possible,” the South Korean official said, referring to China and the US.
The official went on to say that Seoul hopes to reach an agreement to cease hostilities between the two Koreas in the inter-Korean summit, and to include a related clause in the joint statement expected from the meeting.
The official also rejected speculations that Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington may have differing ideas about denuclearization.
“I don’t think (the concerned) nations have different ideas about denuclearization,” he said.
“There will be differences regarding the methodology, which will require negotiations, but there cannot be significant differences with regards to the main trunk of the idea.”
He added that Seoul is trying to ensure that the inter-Korean summit lays the groundwork for a successful US-North Korea summit, as well as improve inter-Korean ties, and that a range of means to keep Pyongyang engaged are under consideration.
The official, however, declined to elaborate on the attitude North Korea is showing in related developments, and declined to comment on speculations regarding Pyongyang’s conditions for denuclearization.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com