Thursday October 21, 2021

N Korea says hope is alive for peace, summit with the South

AFP
September 26, 2021

SEOUL: The influential sister of North Korea’s leader said in a statement on Saturday that an inter-Korean summit could take place, but only if mutual "respect" and "impartiality" are guaranteed.

It was the second statement in two days by Kim Jong Un’s sister and key adviser Kim Yo Jong.

She had on Friday urged Seoul to end its "hostile policies" towards Pyongyang after South Korea’s president called for declaring an official end to the state of war with the North.

The 1950-53 war between the two Koreas ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving Seoul and Pyongyang technically at war for over half a century.

An inter-Korean summit between her brother and the South’s Moon Jae-in could be held "only when impartiality and the attitude of respecting each other" are guaranteed, Kim said in a statement carried by Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency.

She also said a summit, as well as discussions on a declaration to end the war, could be held "at an early date through constructive discussions". "There is no need for the North and the South to waste time faulting each other and engaging in a war of words," she added.

She also reiterated on Friday’s call for the South to drop its "unequal double-standards", in an apparent reference to Moon’s criticism of the North’s recent missile launches.

Last week, the South successfully test-fired successful a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), making it one of a handful of nations with the advanced technology.

North Korea carried out two missile firings this month alone, one involving a long-range cruise missile and the other short-range ballistic missiles.

Communications between the North and South have largely been cut in the aftermath of a second US-North summit in Hanoi that collapsed in February 2019 as then-president Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un couldn’t agree on the terms of an agreement.

North Korea for decades has sought an end to the war but the United States has been reluctant to agree unless North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons. Kim, who is a powerful confidant of her brother the leader, said she noted with interest the intense discussion in the South over the renewed prospect of a formal declaration of the end of the Korean War.

"I felt that the atmosphere of the South Korean public desiring to recover the inter-Korean relations from a deadlock and achieve peaceful stability as soon as possible is irresistibly strong," she said.

"We, too, have the same desire."

Expectations were raised that a declaration on ending the war, even if not an actual treaty, would be made during a historic summit between then US President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jung Un in Singapore in 2018.

But that possibility, and the momentum that the two leaders generated over three meetings came to nothing. Talks have been stalled since 2019.

US President Joe Biden said in his own UN address that he wanted "sustained diplomacy" to resolve the crisis surrounding North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.