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Blue House says Korean War may end at summit

Although Moon won’t be there, top office is hoping for declaration  PLAY AUDIO

Feb 26,2019
President Moon Jae-in, second from left, talks on Monday about South Korea’s expectations ahead of the upcoming North-U.S. summit at a senior secretariat meeting. [YONHAP]
A Blue House spokesman floated the possibility on Monday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump could sign a formal declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War this week in Hanoi even as South Korean President Moon Jae-in is in Seoul, saying the Blue House would “welcome any form” of declaration even if Moon is left out.

But presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom didn’t say whether the war-ending declaration was on the agenda for the second U.S.-North summit, slated for Wednesday and Thursday in Vietnam’s capital, instead vaguely mentioning during a regular press briefing with Blue House correspondents that the “possibility was open” that it would be.

“I don’t know what the war-ending declaration would look like, but I think there’s a possibility that North Korea and the United States may agree to [sign] a declaration to end the war [during this week’s summit],” Kim said. “There could be several forms to a declaration … It could be signed between four countries, three countries or two countries.”

Kim continued that “whatever form” that might be, as long as the declaration leads to North Korea’s denuclearization and adds momentum to that process, the Blue House would be supportive of it, even if it is only signed between Washington and Pyongyang.

The spokesman continued that Seoul was fine with the declaration only being signed by Washington and Pyongyang because last September, Seoul and Pyongyang signed a military agreement that was “virtually a declaration to end the war and a declaration of non-aggression.”

But Kim also warned that a bumpy road lies ahead even after a war-ending declaration is signed, stressing that “multiple countries,” including both Koreas, China and the United States, would then have to launch negotiations on signing a peace treaty, which would require “highly complicated and structural clauses.”

The peace treaty, Kim continued, will likely be signed at the “last stage” of North Korean denuclearization.

Later the same day, during a weekly meeting with senior secretaries at the Blue House, Moon vowed not to lose “the initiative” once the North Korean economy “opens up” and global capital flows into the regime.

“Standing at the center of history, not the periphery,” Moon said, “we will take the lead in preparing for a new Korean Peninsula regime - one that is moving from war and confrontation toward peace and harmony and from factionalism and ideology toward economic prosperity.”

Neither Moon nor Kim provided further details on this “new Korean Peninsula regime,” but Kim said Moon was expected to talk more about his vision this Friday when he addresses the nation to mark the centennial of the March 1 Independence Movement.

“If the upcoming summit produces results,” said Moon, “now is the real beginning.”

Both Koreas were pushing for an end-of-war declaration by the end of last year but failed to meet that deadline as the United States refused, viewing it as a concession to Pyongyang. The Moon government has tried to dial down the declaration’s diplomatic repercussions to get the United States on board, calling it “a political statement.”

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]


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