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South Korea confirmed Wednesday that it is discussing a peace agreement which could formally end more than 60 years of war with the North, while offering an incentive for Pyongyang to discuss denuclearization.
Chung Eui-yong, South Korea’s national security adviser, told the New York Times that he discussed a potential treaty with John Bolton, his newly appointed American counterpart, in Washington last week.
“We held in-depth discussions on various ways of how to end hostilities and eventually establish a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, how to address the North Korean concerns and how to ensure a bright future for the North if it makes the right choice,” he said.
Chung’s remarks come amid preparations for an April 27 meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The summit would be the third inter-Korean conference since the division of the peninsula in 1945.
South Korean officials have flagged denuclearization as a priority at the upcoming talks, but have offered little on what could be used to persuade the North to end the standoff over its weapons program.
Last month, Kim Jong Un reportedly told China he was willing to denuclearize the peninsula. The North has previously stipulated that a peace treaty and normalization of relations with the United States would be among the security guarantees it would need before discussing giving up its nuclear weapons.
The two Koreas technically remain at military odds after the Korean War was brought to a close in 1953 via an armistice. The agreement was inked by the North, China and the U.S., but South Korea refused to sign at the time. A formal peace treaty may involve Seoul, Pyongyang, Washington and Beijing.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump offered his “blessing” for such a deal. Trump is looking to hold his own historic summit with Kim by early June, but has warned that he could still pull out from talks if they don’t prove to be “fruitful.”