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Seoul, Washington discussing routes to peace treaty: Chung

Apr 19,2018
South Korea’s top security official said Wednesday Seoul and Washington were exploring ways to set in place a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, which requires a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in armistice, not a peace treaty.

Chung Eui-yong, head of the Blue House’s National Security Office (NSO), said the two allies were discussing how to “guarantee a better future” for North Korea should it commit to denuclearization, during a meeting with reporters at the Blue House.

Recalling his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump’s new security adviser, John Bolton, in Washington last week, the NSO chief said that the two had in-depth discussions about the upcoming summit meetings between the leaders of the two Koreas and between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Trump.

“For instance, we discussed in detail a variety of issues ranging from setting a non-aggression pact and therefore a permanent peace regime to alleviate Pyongyang’s concerns [about its survival] and guarantee a better future should it make the right choice,” he said.

Chung expressed high hopes for the upcoming inter-Korean summit scheduled for April 27, saying the meeting as well as the subsequent Kim-Trump meeting for which a date and venue have yet to be determined carried “special meaning in world history.”

He credited Trump for the recent conciliatory mood with North Korea, thanking the real estate mogul for his “strong determination to achieve the goal of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.”

“Whenever there is an opportunity, we’d like to express our gratitude to Trump and ask for sustained cooperation in the matter,” he said.

Elaborating on a peace regime on the peninsula, a senior presidential official speaking on the condition of anonymity said the process would require an agreement between the two Koreas, but added it might also require consent from other nations involved in the three-year conflict that ended in armistice, leaving the two Koreas technically at war since 1953.

“We [South Korea] are a direct stakeholder [in the discussion]. No one can deny that,” said the official, who noted that a four-way discussion could be held to negotiate a peace treaty.

The Korean War ended when an armistice agreement was signed trilaterally by the U.S.-led United Nations Command on behalf of South Korea, and the North Korean and Chinese militaries on July 27, 1953.

To formally declare the end of the war, agreements from Beijing and Washington will be required as they participated in the 1953 armistice agreement.

The April 27 summit between Moon and Kim is drawing the world’s press. A total of 2,833 journalists from 348 media companies around the world have registered to cover the event as of Tuesday, surpassing the number of reporters registered for the first meeting in 2000 and the second in 2007, according to the summit preparation committee.

Of the total number, 1,975 are Korean reporters for 168 media companies while 858 reporters are from 180 foreign media firms.

With the third inter-Korean summit eight days away, the two Koreas had their second working-level meeting Wednesday to discuss protocol, security and media coverage at Panmunjom that straddles the border.

The two sides agreed they would broadcast live the meeting of Moon and Kim.

“We agreed to begin airing live to the world from the moment the two leaders shake hands together as well as other important moments of the summit meeting,” said Kwun Hyuk-ki, director of the Blue House media center who took part in the talks, during a press briefing following the meeting. He added Kim’s crossing of the border, whether in a car or on foot, will also be broadcast live.

Other plans for the meeting, such as the walking routes of North Korean leader Kim, were not disclosed.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]