North Korea’s Foreign Ministry called for an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War on Tuesday, urging the US to take action a day ahead of a scheduled visit to the North by South Korean envoys.
In an essay posted on the ministry’s official website, the North highlighted what it called its regime’s efforts throughout history to build a “lasting and stable peace regime” on the Korean Peninsula, while accusing the US of turning a “blind eye” every time.
US Vice President Mike Pence and Navy Rear Adm. Jon Kreitz, deputy director of the POW/MIA Accounting Agency, right, watch as military members carry transfer cases from a C-17 at a ceremony marking the arrival of the remains believed to be of American service members who fell in the Korean War at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, on Aug. 1. (AP-Yonhap)
“Establishing a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula is a historical task which brooks no further delay,” read the essay, which is written in English and titled “Building a Peace Regime on the Korean Peninsula -- An Urgent Demand of the Times.” It was submitted by Kim Yong-guk, director general of the Institute for Disarmament and Peace, which the ministry oversees.
The essay alluded to the current stalemate in denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang, urging the US to “respond positively” to its recent “confidence-building” measures such as its decision to suspend nuclear testing and missile launches, dismantle its nuclear testing sites and repatriate the remains of dozens of US soldiers.
“To successfully implement the DPRK-US Joint Statement, it is essential to build confidence between the DPRK and the US, and a phased approach is also needed in which both sides address issues gradually one by one starting from the problems that they can resolve easily,” the essay said, referring to the agreement reached between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Singapore summit in June.
“On the issue of confidence-building between the DPRK and US, first of all, a declaration of ending the Korean War should be made, as the first process, to manifest the political will to establish the lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”
Following the June summit, denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang seemed to make headway, with North Korea returning the remains of US soldiers killed during the Korean War. But the talks became increasingly stagnant, and in late August Trump canceled US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s trip to the North, citing a lack of progress in the denuclearization process.
The stalemate also seems to have affected efforts to improve inter-Korean ties, and South Korea’s presidential envoy embarked on a trip to Pyongyang early Wednesday to discuss a proposed summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as well as ways to resolve the stalled progress of the US-North Korea talks.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday the North’s external propaganda website, Meari, criticized the Seoul government’s plans to increase its defense budget 8.2 percent next year and its decision to renew a military information-sharing agreement with Japan, referring to the moves as challenges to the Panmunjom Declaration jointly agreed upon by their two leaders in April.
“It is common sense that the people who have fought against each other hold down the weapons they were holding when they are reconciled. Military disarmament is a first step to turning confrontation into reconciliation,” Meari said in a column.
By Jung Min-kyung (email@example.com