Author Topic: North Korea says peace treaty key to nuclear issue  (Read 48 times)

mauzip

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North Korea says peace treaty key to nuclear issue
« on: July 22, 2005, 12:42:04 PM »
Agreeing a peace treaty to replace the armistice that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War would resolve the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula, a spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The statement, carried by the official KCNA news agency, came before a meeting of regional powers in Beijing on Tuesday for talks aimed at dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs in exchange for security guarantees and economic assistance.

"Replacing the ceasefire mechanism by a peace mechanism on the Korean peninsula would lead to putting an end to the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK, which spawned the nuclear issue and the former's nuclear threat," the spokesman said.

He said this would "automatically result in the denuclearisation of the peninsula."

DPRK is short for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Korean War ended inconclusively with a truce, leaving the belligerents still formally at war.

The main countries involved -- the United States, China and North and South Korea -- last held talks on a peace treaty in Geneva beginning in late 1997. They made almost no progress after North Korea said it could not reach a deal until U.S. troops were removed from the peninsula.

U.S. officials have said they want North Korea to respond to an offer of a security guarantee and energy aid made at the last round of the six-party nuclear talks in June 2004.

They have said their top priority is for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear programs whereupon Washington could discuss other issues, such as normalizing ties.

STRONG IMPETUS

The North Korean spokesman said success in striking a peace deal would "give a strong impetus to the process of the soon-to-be-resumed six-party talks to settle the nuclear issue."

The North had boycotted the six-way process for over a year. The other participants are South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

Pyongyang's delegation to the six-party talks flew to Beijing on Friday, KCNA reported.

North Korean analysts have noted that Pyongyang has often tried to muddy the waters before major negotiations by bringing up conditions and demands.

Chinese media reported on Thursday that North Korea was willing to resolve the nuclear crisis and that normalizing relations with Washington was key to a deal.

South Korea has offered to supply North Korea with 2,000 megawatts of electricity -- almost matching the North's present power output -- if Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear programs.

South and North Korea took a step toward better bilateral ties on Friday when they opened the first private phone line in 60 years linking Pyongyang to Seoul.

The line will be used to connect video terminals in the two capitals, allowing families separated by the Korean War to conduct video reunions. Seoul and Pyongyang have also recently reached bilateral agreements on mining rights, factory development and steps to ease military tensions along the border.

Seoul said the overriding concern at next week's Beijing talks would be ending Pyongyang's atomic ambitions, and was seeking to dissuade its partners from widening the discussions.

Japan, for example, said it would like to raise the issue of its citizens abducted by the North decades ago. U.S. officials spoke of touching on North Korea's human rights record.

"The subject of the six-party talks is the dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear programs and the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. Those other issues cannot be the subject of the talks," South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-soon told reporters.

All of the parties, including North Korea, have called for substantive progress at the discussions in Beijing.