Moon proposes formally ending Korean War in keynote UN speech

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Moon proposes formally ending Korean War in keynote UN speech

President Moon Jae-in gives a videoconference speech for the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.  [Provided by the Blue House]

President Moon Jae-in gives a videoconference speech for the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. [Provided by the Blue House]

President Moon Jae-in in a speech Tuesday urged the United Nations and the international community to support formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War.
"I hope that the UN and the international community provide support so that we can advance into an era of reconciliation and prosperity through the end-of-war declaration," Moon said in the speech, delivered by video to the 75th UN General Assembly. "The end-of-war declaration will, indeed, open the door to complete denuclearization and permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula."
Moon made the proposal in his pre-recorded keynote address for the UN General Assembly meeting held in New York. The UN decided to hold the event via video link due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Moon's speech was aired early Wednesday morning in Seoul. Among more than 170 leaders who participated in the meeting, Moon was the 10th to speak.
"In particular, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War," Moon said. "Time has come to remove the tragedy lingering on the Korean Peninsula. The War must end, completely and for good."
The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war. In 1953, an armistice agreement was signed by the UN Command, North Korea and China to bring a complete ceasefire to hostilities until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.
"Peace on the Korean Peninsula will guarantee peace in Northeast Asia as a whole and, going one step further, bring positive changes to the world order as well," Moon said in his speech. "I believe it begins with declaring an end to the war, an act that can affirm mutual commitments to peace."
Moon said an end to the conflict will "open the door to complete denuclearization." The stance is a change from his previous position that progress needed to be made toward denuclearization of North Korea as a precondition for the end-of-war declaration.
In his 2018 speech in the UN General Assembly, Moon said, "I look forward to seeing bold measures for denuclearization implemented among the related countries, leading to the declaration to end the war."  
During the first years of Moon's presidency, expectations were high that inter-Korean relations and North-U.S. relations would see substantive progress toward denuclearization. In 2018, inter-Korean relations progressed rapidly, and Moon held three summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that year alone. Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington were also active.
But the sanguine expectations failed to be realized, after the second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in February 2019 produced no deal. Inter-Korean relations also became frozen.
It remains to be seen how North Korea will react to Moon's latest proposal, now that it is not explicitly linked to denuclearization progress.
In his speech, Moon also discussed other issues. He proposed establishing a regional organization to promote cooperation in public health measures and infectious disease control.
"Hoping that the international community views the issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula through the lens of more inclusive international cooperation, I propose today launching a Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative for Infectious Disease Control and Public Health, whereby North Korea participates as a member along with China, Japan, Mongolia and the Republic of Korea," he said, using South Korea's formal name.
"A cooperative architecture that guarantees collective protection of life and safety will lay the groundwork for North Korea to have its security guaranteed by engaging with the international community."
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