Wait for treatyIn a meeting with the press corps, Foreign Minister Song Min-soon said, “Without a firm peace regime in place, declaring the Korean War to be over is problematic.”
The remarks by the foreign minister are eye-catching, as they differ clearly from President Roh Moo-hyun’s view. Roh said earlier that the key agenda for the upcoming inter-Korean summit meeting would be the peace treaty issue.
Minister Song said that efforts should be made toward a peace treaty, but that signing such a treaty would not immediately bring about a “peaceful moment.” He said, “If you declare the end of the war, the war ends; but there is no real peace, thus there will be disorder.”
The remarks by the minister echo concerns about keeping the U.S. military presence here. If the war formally ends, the reason for the current U.S. military presence is threatened. We think the concerns by Minister Song are based on a realistic acknowledgement of the current security conditions on the Korean Peninsula.
As the talk among nations involved in the North Korean nuclear talks is increasingly geared toward achieving the disablement of the North’s nuclear facilities this year, the idea of establishing a peace regime is being thoughtlessly discussed here only months before the presidential election.
Washington and Seoul’s recently made agreement on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Sydney certainly fuels this debate. The two countries have resolved to tell Kim Jong-il that their leaders will sign a peace treaty to end the Korean War once the North takes measures to denuclearize.
Nevertheless, there is no change in the position of the United States that a complete verifiable denuclearization has to come before signing a peace treaty.
It is clear that establishing a peace regime is an issue that cannot be decided just because both Koreas have an agreement.
Bypassing the North Korean nuclear issue, which still has a long way to go, and discussing a peace treaty and the formal end of the Korean War are unrealistic and have no meaning.
They could give the wrong impression that Seoul accepts the North’s nuclear capabilities.
Building a foundation for a peace regime by implementing military confidence-building measures is a realistic approach. History tells us that a peace treaty without trust is nothing more than mere paper.