South Korean President Moon Jae-in on for a three-day state visit to Singapore said Wednesday that it is his administration goal to declare an official end to the Korean War within this year, 65 years after a truce agreement was signed.
In an interview with The Straits Times on Wednesday, a major Singaporean daily, President Moon said he will closely consult with North Korea and the United States regarding the timing and formality of the proposed declaration, adding that there are additional discussions going on between the two Koreas and between Pyongyang and Washington.
The interview was conducted at his office Cheong Wa Dae on last Wednesday, two days before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang. As Washington says an end-of-war declaration is not possible until Pyongyang takes denuclearization measures, President Moon’s remarks are viewed as an expression of his intention to mediate between Pyongyang and Washington for the declaration.
“The two sides’ demands have become clearer at the latest high-level talks,” a Cheong Wa Dae official said. “They will have discussions in earnest to narrow their differences over the end-of-war declaration.”
Asked about concerns that Washington could pull its troops out of South Korea after an end-of-war declaration and establishment of a peace regime, Moon reiterated that the issue is a matter of South Korea-U.S. alliance, which is not to be discussed during the North Korea-U.S. denuclearization negotiations. Despite a series of major South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises being suspended following the North Korea-U.S. summit in Singapore last month, President Moon has made it clear that he will not seek to discuss any U.S. troop reduction or withdrawal.
Amid rising concerns over little progress made in the North Korea-U.S. denuclearization talks despite Pompeo’s visits to Pyongyang, President Moon assessed the North’s behavior positively, saying that Pyongyang has pronounced its position on complete denuclearization through summits with South Korea and the United States and taken practical denuclearization measures including the destruction of its nuclear test sites.
Regarding his possible visit to Pyongyang in fall, Moon said he is focusing on implementing agreements reached at the two recent rounds of inter-Korean summits, rather than preparing for a Pyongyang visit.
Sang-Jun Han firstname.lastname@example.org