North Korea Proposes Talks Over Peace Treaty
By Kim Sue-young
North Korea proposed talks on a peace treaty Monday, saying the issue could be discussed at a meeting of armistice signatories or in the six-party talks.
In a statement, a spokesman of the North's Foreign Ministry indicated that it could rejoin the six-party denuclearization talks to discuss the issue.
The South Korean government remained skeptical. An official said on condition of anonymity that the administration is reviewing the proposal and analyzing Pyongyang's real intention.
South and North Korea still remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
The armistice was signed by North Korea and China on one side and the U.S.-led United Nations Command on the other. South Korea was not a signatory.
But North Korea reportedly proposed discussing a peace treaty with South Korea, China and the U.S. during U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth's visit to Pyongyang in early December.
The statement, however, did not clarify with which countries it wants to have talks.
"We politely suggest that countries related to the truce accord have talks to switch the current armistice agreement into a peace treaty this year, which marks the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War," said the statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Pyongyang claimed that the nuclear issue wouldn't have happened if a peaceful regime had been established on the Korean Peninsula.
It also said the proposed talks can take place within the context of the stalled six-way talks.
The secretive state has boycotted the multilateral forum since the international community imposed financial sanctions following its nuclear test on May 25 last year.
"In terms of its nature and meaning, the peace treaty issue can be discussed within the framework of the six-party talks like the ongoing Washington-Pyongyang talks," the statement said, referring to the bilateral meeting between U.S. envoy Bosworth and North Korean officials late last year.
The communist state noted that the suspended six-way forum could be resumed soon if the international sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council last year are lifted.
"A conclusion of the peace treaty will help terminate the hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S., and positively promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula rapidly," the statement said.