Moon urges US move to­ward for­mally end­ing Korean War

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - International -

SOUTH Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in called Fri­day on the United States to move to­wards the nu­cle­ar­armed North’s de­mands for a dec­la­ra­tion the Korean War is over, as the al­lies pur­sue in­creas­ingly dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to­wards Py­ongyang.

Wash­ing­ton has shied away from a for­mal an­nounce­ment that the 1950-53 con­flict, when hos­til­i­ties ceased with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, has ended, say­ing that the North must first take more steps to­wards giv­ing up its atomic ar­se­nal.

For its part Py­ongyang, which long in­sisted it needed nu­clear weapons to de­fend it­self against a pos­si­ble US in­va­sion, has pledged only to work to­wards de­nu­cle­ariza­tion “of the Korean penin­sula,” de­mand­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ous moves by Wash­ing­ton in re­turn, with a peace dec­la­ra­tion its first pri­or­ity.

“The North has stopped all nu­clear and mis­sile tests, dis­man­tled its only nu­clear test site and is now dis­man­tling its mis­sile en­gine test fa­cil­i­ties, and is prom- ising to take steps to­ward dis­man­tling its Yong­byon nu­clear com­plex if the U.S. takes cor­re­spond­ing mea­sures,” Moon told the BBC.

“Declar­ing the end of the war is a po­lit­i­cal dec­la­ra­tion that the U.S. would end decades of hos­tile re­la­tions with the North,” he said. “Mov­ing to­wards such a process is the cor­re­spond­ing mea­sure the U.S. should take,” he added, ac­cord­ing to a tran­script re­leased by the pres­i­den­tial Blue House.

The com­ments, made ahead of Moon’s de­par­ture Satur­day for a tour of Euro­pean cap­i­tals, em­pha­size the in­creas­ing dif­fer­ences be­tween Seoul and Wash­ing­ton, which has 28,500 troops sta­tioned in the South to de­fend it from its neigh­bor.

Ex­perts say the of­fers made by the North will have lit­tle im­pact on its mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and Py­ongyang it­self has said it has no fur­ther need to test its weapons. But Moon said Kim un­der­stood de­nu­cle­ariza­tion meant more than clos­ing test­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

It also in­cluded “dis­man­tling fa­cil­i­ties that pro­duce nu­clear weapons and de­velop mis­siles,” he said, “and it in­cludes ev­ery­thing else, such as get­ting rid of ex­ist­ing nu­clear weapons and nu­clear ma­te­ri­als.”

Py­ongyang has made no such dec­la­ra­tion in pub­lic, and mis­siles were in­cluded in the de­signs of pro­pa­ganda posters on dis­play in the cap­i­tal last month, when it cel­e­brated the 70th an­niver­sary of the foun­da­tion of the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea, as the coun­try is of­fi­cially known.

The dovish Moon has long fa­vored en­gage­ment with the North, which is sub­ject to mul­ti­ple U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil sanc­tions over its nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grams, and vis­ited Py­ongyang last month for his third meet­ing with leader Kim Jong Un.

The United States, which spear­headed global ef­forts to squeeze the North Korean econ­omy last year, has been adamant that the sanc­tions re­main in place un­til Py­ongyang’s “fi­nal, fully ver­i­fied de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.” But af­ter a visit by Sec- re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo to Py­ongyang, Trump said this week that a sec­ond sum­mit be­tween him and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could hap­pen af­ter the U.S. midterm elec­tions in early Novem­ber.

Kim and Trump traded per­sonal in­sults and threats of war last year be­fore a rapid rap­proche­ment cul­mi­nated in their his­toric first meet­ing in Sin­ga­pore in June, although crit­ics said their joint state­ment saw Kim make only a vague com­mit­ment to­wards de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, with no con­crete mea­sures.

Moon ex­pected Kim and Trump to make “bold agree­ments” in the up­com­ing sum­mit, he told the BBC, adding he re­mained “very op­ti­mistic” about their talks.

Seoul said sep­a­rately that the two Koreas will hold high-level talks at the bor­der on Mon­day to dis­cuss how to im­ple­ment the agree­ments made at last month’s Py­ongyang sum­mit, when Moon and Kim vowed to meet again in Seoul “at an early date.”

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