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‘No’ End-of-war: North Korea rejects South Korea’s request for a peace declaration

The North has rebuffed South Korea’s call for a political declaration ending the Korean War as a means of re-establishing peace, saying such a move could be a ‘smokescreen to conceal’ the hostile policy of the US against the North. Earlier this week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in reiterated calls for the end-of-the-war declaration that could help bring denuclearization and lasting peace to the Korean Peninsula.┬áRi Thae Song, the North Korean vice foreign minister, dismissed Moon’s call as premature if the US policy remained unchanged.

In a statement carried by state media, Ri noted that the declaration of the end of the war is having no effect on stabilizing the situation on the Korean Peninsula right now, but rather could be using the declaration as a smokescreen to cover up the US hostile policies. In his view, American weapons and troops deployed in South Korea and its vicinity, and regular US military drills in the region ‘all illustrate the reckless US policy toward (North Korea)’. Additionally, North Korea frequently points to US-led economic sanctions as evidence of US hostility.

The Unification Ministry replied on Friday that it will keep working to adopt the announcement and would strengthen cooperation with related countries. Cha Duck Chul, the deputy ministry spokesman, said declaring the war’s end would set the stage for peace talks and denuclearization. North Korea has repeatedly sought a peace treaty with the United States in order to formally end the war and start improving relations afterward. Some experts say that a peace treaty could allow North Korea to ask the United States to withdraw its 28,500 troops from South Korea and ease sanctions.

Both Koreas had called for a formal end-of-war declaration and peace treaty to be negotiated during the period of diplomacy with the US that began in 2018. Former President Donald Trump reportedly predicted the war would end in 2019 so Kim Jong Un would commit to denuclearization. In late 2019, North Korea said the nuclear crisis will not be resolved if the United States tried to bring it back to the talks without pulling its hostile policy. No such announcement was made as the diplomatic process was marked by an impasse over easing sanctions in return for North Korean denuclearization.

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In recent months, Kim has warned that North Korea will expand its nuclear arsenal and introduce more sophisticated weapons systems if the United States doesn’t drop its hostile posture. North Korea conducted its first missile tests in six months last week, demonstrating its ability to strike key US allies South Korea and Japan, where an estimated 80,000 American soldiers are stationed.

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