중앙데일리

Seoul not to accept separate peace deal

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Dec 03,2009
Seoul would not accept the peace treaty that North Korea is seeking solely with the United States, the top South Korean diplomat said yesterday.

Speaking at the Northeast Asia Future Forum, hosted by the JoongAng Ilbo, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan stressed that any discussion on a peace deal to replace the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953 must involve South Korea and China, two countries that were part of the original deal.

“We can’t accept a peace treaty between North Korea and the United States that replaces the cease-fire agreement [of 1953],” Yu said. “Our basic position is that such discussions must be centered on the two Koreas, with the United States and China also involved.”

The minister said the North’s repeated demand for the peace agreement appears to be aimed at buying itself time to develop nuclear weapons.

“It seems to me that the North intends to buy time and divert attention while it continues to develop nuclear arms, so that it could be recognized as a nuclear state,” Yu said. “Let me point out that as long as the North possesses nuclear weapons, it will be impossible for North Korea to improve its relations with the United States and it will be impossible to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

Yu said North Korea and the United States signed a joint communique in October 2000 and the document “contains everything North Korea wants, including security guarantees.”

North Korea has repeatedly said it would not be bound by the 1953 armistice and that it should be replaced with a peace agreement. But Yu said the North isn’t pursuing a peace treaty for peace.

“North Korea continues to justify its nuclear weapons development by saying there is a hostile U.S. policy and it wants a peace treaty to force Washington to abandon such a policy,” the minister said. “But any peace deal must involve the nations that fought in the war.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in late November there would be “significant benefits” to North Korea if it committed to verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

Clinton said Washington “would explore some of the issues which they have raised continually with us over the years; namely, normalization of relations, a peace treaty instead of an armistice, economic development assistance.”

Yu’s comments came ahead of much-anticipated bilateral talks between Washington and Pyongyang. Next Tuesday, Stephen Bosworth, the special U.S. envoy to North Korea, will fly to Pyongyang to meet his North Korean counterparts.

The United States wants to persuade the North to return to the six-party talks, while North Korea has said its return would hinge upon the outcome of its discussions with Washington.

Yu stressed that South Korea would retain its so-called “two-track” approach of applying pressure on North Korea through international sanctions while keeping the door open for dialogue.

“Until the North takes irreversible and verifiable denuclearization measures, sanctions must remain in place,” the minister said. “The five other nations to the six-party talks [South Korea, the United States, Russia, Japan and China] have formed a consensus on this. We also believe that the six-party talks remain the needed framework of negotiations to resolve the nuclear standoff.”


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]




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