The 68-year war between South and North Korea may come to an official end next week, as the countries’ leaders are reportedly planning to make a joint statement calling for peace – with the approval of US President Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump told reporters that he had given his assent for South Korea to end the military conflict, which began in 1950 and has technically continued since a 1953 truce was signed.
“They do have my blessing to discuss the end of the war,” Trump said.
The US-led UN command, China and North Korea are signatories to the accord. More than 30,000 Americans died in the war.
And that end may come next week, during a meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, according to the South Korean Munhwa Ilbo newspaper.
The two leaders may release a joint statement saying they will work to technically bring the war to an end, the paper said, citing an unidentified South Korean official.
A direct telephone line between Moon and Kim may be connected around Friday,
Moon’s chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, said in a briefing on Tuesday, adding that it had not been decided when they will hold their first conversation.
No peace treaty has ever been signed to replace the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean war, and the US and North Korea have been at loggerheads since armed hostilities ended.
A successful meeting between Moon and Kim could pave the way for the summit planned between Kim and US President Donald Trump – the first between a sitting American president and a North Korean leader.
The peninsula remains bisected in a perpetual stalemate, with the US-backed South Korean military lined up against more than a million North Korean troops. While tensions have occasionally flared over the decades, the two sides have avoided another devastating conflict.
“Ending the state of conflict is the core of the whole thing. Peace is as complicated as denuclearisation,” said John Delury, an associate professor of Chinese studies at Yonsei University in Seoul. “There also has to be a process of actually delivering the peace.”
Some of the issues that would need to be tackled include the hundreds of thousands of troops along one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world; submarines and ships patrolling on both coasts; South Korea’s active military alliance with the US; the hosting of US forces; and North Korean artillery pointed at Seoul.
One way to resolve the conflict could involve returning the demilitarised zone between the two countries to its original state, Munhwa Ilbo said. – SCMP