Washington, D.C. – After President Donald Trump agreed to meet with North Korean President Kim Jong Un, with specific details yet to be worked out, Bloomberg is reporting that Kim may request that the signing of a peace treaty at a proposed meeting with the U.S. president.
On March 12, South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo, citing an unnamed senior official in South Korea’s presidential office, claimed that North Korea may request a peace treaty and the establishment of diplomatic relations with the U.S. – in addition to potentially discussing nuclear disarmament.
The Korean War came to an end with the signing of an armistice, with neither side able to claim outright victory. Military commanders from China and North Korea signed the agreement on one side, while the U.S.-led United Nations Command signed on behalf of the international community. Ironically, South Korea was not a signatory. The armistice was only ever intended as a temporary measure but has been in place for more than 60 years.
“There were agreements between the U.S. and North Korea to open up discussion on a peace treaty, but they never materialized,” Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul told Bloomberg, noting that conditions were critical. “The U.S. wants a peace treaty at the end of the denuclearization process, while for the North, it’s the precondition for its denuclearization.”
According to the report by Bloomberg:
Signing a peace treaty would require addressing issues regarding the U.S. military’s presence in South Korea and its transfer of wartime operational control to South Korea and United Nations forces in South Korea, Koh said.
Trump’s surprise decision Thursday to accept a meeting with Kim dispensed with decades of U.S. foreign policy by accepting the high-stakes invitation based on a vague offer by Kim to discuss giving up his nuclear weapons program. The decision drew both support from countries seeking to defuse tensions between North Korea and the U.S., and warnings that Kim could be seeking more time to develop his weapons and reduce pressure from international sanctions.
Although Trump’s acceptance of the offer to meet was considered risky, in another sign of thawing relations between the North and South, South Korean President Moon Jae-in also accepted an offer for a meeting near the countries shared border later next month, in which Kim is expected to propose resuming cultural exchanges and family reunions.
South Korea and U.S. officials are reportedly in discussions over how to conduct upcoming large-scale military drills— largely meant as a display of military might— without provoking the North Korean government. Some reports indicate the US will not have an aircraft participate in the joint military drills in an effort to mitigate the breakthrough in diplomacy.