Expert offers conditions for treaty

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Expert offers conditions for treaty

The country’s former vice foreign minister said Thursday that South Korea could begin discussions for a peace treaty with North Korea if Pyongyang shows willingness to freeze its nuclear program.

If North Korea were to suspend its nuclear development, negotiations to forge peace on the Korean Peninsula could be held on the sidelines of the six-party talks, said Kim Sung-han, a professor of international relations at Korea University in Seoul.

He made his remarks at a forum hosted by the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification.

The six-party talks, originally formed with the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States, aimed to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear aims. Discussions have been stalled since 2008, however, when North Korea backed away.

The establishment of permanent peace on the peninsula, he continued, would be contingent on the North’s denuclearization, a peace treaty, arms control for both Koreas and the normalization of diplomatic relations with the United States and Japan.

Kim, the former vice foreign minister from February 2012 to March 2013, added that the peace treaty would ideally be signed between North and South Korea with the endorsement of Washington and Beijing.

Controversy over the possibility arose this week after the United States was revealed to have agreed to secret discussions with North Korea regarding a peace treaty to put a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War - a move that appeared to deviate from Washington’s fundamental policy that true steps toward denuclearization must come first.

BY KIM SO-HEE [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]

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