North Korea proposes talks if South Korea lifts hostility

Seoul, Sep 24 (AP):
The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Friday her country is willing to resume talks with South Korea if it doesn’t provoke the North with hostile policies and double standards. Kim Yo Jong’s statement was a response to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s renewed calls for a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War as a way to bring back peace. Her proposal also came days after North Korea performed its first missile tests in six months and South Korea performed its first test of a submarine-launched missile. If (South) Korea distances itself from the past when it provoked us and criticized us at every step with its double standards and restores sincerity in its words and actions and abandons its hostility, we would then be willing to resume close communication and engage in constructive discussions about restoring and developing relations,” Kim Yo Jong said.
To achieve the end-of-the war declaration, she said: We must ensure mutual respect toward one another and abandon prejudiced views, harshly hostile policies and unfair double standards toward the other side first. Her comments were a contrast to a blunt statement by a senior North Korean diplomat earlier Friday that the end-of-war declaration could be used as a smokescreen covering up the US hostile policy against the North. Vice Foreign Minister Ri Thae Song American weapons and troops deployed in South Korea and its vicinity and regular US military drills in the region all point to the US hostile policy toward (North Korea) getting vicious day by day. North Korea has also long described US-led economic sanctions as proof of US hostility against the North. In a response to Ri’s statement, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it’ll continue its efforts to adopt the end-of-the war declaration and strengthen cooperation with related countries. Cha Duck Chul, a deputy ministry spokesman, said declaring the war’s end would be a very meaningful step as it could be a starting point for peace negotiations and denuclearization on the peninsula. The Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula in a technical state of war. North Korea has steadily wanted to sign a peace treaty with the United States to formally end the war and for subsequent improved relations. Some experts say the peace treaty could allow North Korea to demand the United States to withdraw its 28,500 troops in South Korea and ease sanctions. Both Koreas had called for an end-of-war declaration to be made and a peace treaty to be signed during the period of diplomacy with the United States that began in 2018, and there was speculation then-President Donald Trump might announce the war’s end in early 2019 to convince North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to commit to denuclearization.

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