North Korea says call to declare end of Korean War is premature

South Korea President Moon Jae-in repeated a call for a formal end to the Korean War in an address to the UN General Assembly on Sept 21, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (REUTERS, AFP) - South Korea's call to declare a formal end to the Korean War is premature as there is no guarantee it would lead to the withdrawal of the "US hostile policy" towards Pyongyang, North Korea state media KCNA reported on Friday (Sept 24), citing Foreign Vice-Minister Ri Thae Song.

South Korea President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday repeated a call for a formal end to the Korean War in an address to the UN General Assembly and proposed that the two Koreas with the United States, or with the United States and China, make such a declaration.

The two Koreas are still technically at war after their 1950-1953 conflict ended in a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty.

"Nothing will change as long as the political circumstances around the DPRK remains unchanged and the US hostile policy is not shifted, although the termination of the war is declared hundreds of times," Ri said on KCNA, using North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The US withdrawal of its double-standards and hostile policy is the top priority in stabilising the situation of the Korean peninsula and ensuring peace on it."

The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday also said it was "admirable" of the South to propose a formal end to the Korean War but demanded Seoul first drop its "hostile policies" towards Pyongyang.

Kim Yo Jong, a key policy adviser to her brother Kim Jong Un, said it was an "admirable idea" to propose a formal end to the war but insisted the South should remove its hostile attitude first.

Making such a declaration with "double-dealing standards, prejudice and hostile policies" still in place "does not make any sense," she said.

"For the termination of the war to be declared, respect for each other should be maintained and prejudiced viewpoint, inveterate hostile policy and unequal double standards must be removed first," she said.

She added making such a declaration would "hold no water and would change nothing" under current conditions.

But the North would be willing to have talks on improving ties with Seoul if the South withdrew hostility "after breaking with the past when it often provoked us".

On Friday, Moon said he was confident that Pyongyang will realise it is in its interest to come to dialogue with Washington, but not certain that moment will come during his term, which ends in 2022.

Moon was speaking to reporters aboard South Korea's presidential jet as he flew back to Seoul from the United States after addressing the UN General Assembly.

"It seems that North Korea is still weighing options while keeping the door open for talks, since it is only raising tension at a low level, just enough for the US to not break off all contact."

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden addressed the UN assembly and said the United States wants "sustained diplomacy" to resolve the crisis surrounding North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

North Korea has rejected US overtures to engage in dialogue and the head of the UN atomic watchdog said this week that Pyongyang's nuclear program is going "full steam ahead".

North Korea and South Korea test fired ballistic missiles last week, the latest volley in an arms race in which both nations have developed increasingly sophisticated weapons amid fruitless efforts to start talks to defuse tensions.

Moon described Pyongyang's recent launches as "provocations" when he oversaw a successful test-firing of a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) last week, making the South one of a handful of nations with the advanced technology.

That prompted Kim Yo Jong to condemn Seoul's "illogical attitude that describes their similar behaviour as a legitimate action to support peace, and ours as a threat to peace".

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