By Kanga Kong
Kim Jong Un wants to sign a peace treaty after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, South Korean media reported, reviving a long-held goal of the North Korean regime.
Kim is likely to raise the possibility of a peace treaty, along with establishing diplomatic relations and nuclear disarmament, during a meeting with the U.S. leader, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said Monday, citing an unidentified senior official in South Korea’s presidential office. Trump last week agreed to meet Kim, although key details of the summit have yet to be decided.
Koh Yu-hwan, who teaches North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said the regime has long sought a peace treaty to end the more than 60-year-old ceasefire between the two sides and help guarantee its safety.
“There were agreements between the U.S. and North Korea to open up discussion on a peace treaty, but they never materialized,” Koh said, saying the conditions were key. “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.”
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.
The meeting — tentatively scheduled for May — will require a flurry of diplomacy as participants try to agree what will be discussed and where it will happen. South Korean President Moon Jae-in also accepted Kim’s offer to meet near their shared border later next month, a meeting in which Kim was expected to suggested resuming cultural exchanges and family reunions.
The U.S. and the South Korea are also discussing how to conduct upcoming mass military drills in a way that won’t provoke Kim, whose regime views the exercises as a rehearsal for war. The allies had agreed to delay the drills until after the Winter Paralympics end later this month.
The U.S. was unlikely to deploy an aircraft carrier, which is considered a “strategic asset,” during the drills, the Yonhap News Agency reported Monday. The South Korean Defense Ministry declined to comment on the planned drills.