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China, SK seek end to war

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Top negotiators on Korean Peninsula nuclear issues from China and South Korea held talks in Beijing on Monday, with analysts saying that both sides are working on a possible formal declaration on the end to the Korean War and solutions to the deadlock on denuclearization of the peninsula.

China's Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xunayou, who is also the special representative of the Chinese government on Korean Peninsula affairs, met with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon on Monday in Beijing as part of efforts by Seoul and Beijing to boost strategic communication on peninsula affairs, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported on Monday.

"[I] discussed with Vice Minister Kong Xuanyou how things are progressing as to the envisioned declaration of an end to the war, and Vice Minister Kong also shared what he discussed with the North during his recent visit to Pyongyang," Lee told Yonhap at a Beijing airport after the talks on Monday.

"What is positive is that South Korea and China had a considerable convergence of views on the Korean Peninsula issues," he noted.

The nuclear envoys' discussion of a possible declaration on an end to the Korean War may help lead to a breakthrough, Chinese experts said on Monday.

Cui Zhiying, director of the Korean Peninsula Research Center at Shanghai-based Tongji University, told the Global Times on Monday that "replacing the current armistice with a declaration on the end to the Korean War is an important part of the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue and an important step forward to a final peace treaty."

The Korean Armistice Agreement, which halted the three-year Korean War (1950-53,) was signed on July 27, 1953 by representatives of China, North Korea and the United Nations Command.

Chinese analysts said that South Korea has already taken measures to reduce tensions with North Korea, including making active preparations for the reunion of families separated since the Korean War. They say China and South Korea's joint efforts will likely to promote the signing of the war-ending declaration.

South Korea called on North Korea on Monday to further accelerate its denuclearization process while asking the US to faithfully implement its promises of rewarding the North's progress, Yonhap reported on Monday.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a press conference after the China-ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting in Singapore on Thursday that "a declaration ending the war is in line with the trend of the times and reflects the aspirations of people of all countries, including the two countries on the Korean Peninsula," the Xinhua News Agency reported.

China has always insisted on setting up a peace mechanism along with the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as the right direction in resolving the nuclear issue, said Wang.

Action, not lip service

Cui said that South Korea was the first to suggest signing a declaration to end the Korean War and this was echoed by North Korea and China. The topic was also mentioned during the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in April.

"There has been little progress on denuclearization since the Singapore summit and the situation now seems to be at a stalemate. After taking actions on denuclearization, including shutting down its nuclear test sites and releasing US citizens, North Korea is expecting corresponding measures from the US, such as relaxing the sanctions, but the US has yet to respond," Cui said.

Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday that "the US has given only lip service to a declaration ending the war and has actually hindered the peace process by accusing North Korea of attempting to open its nuclear test sites and calling for more sanctions."

Lü said US policies on North Korea swing like a pendulum, with Trump having a friendly meeting with Kim and exchanging letters, but then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo takes a hard line and insists on fully verified denuclearization before the US reciprocates with the easing of sanctions.

During the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) on Saturday in Singapore, Pompeo reiterated the stern stance of the US by stressing the requirement for"fully verified denuclearization" before any sanctions are lifted and called on Russia to fully enforce sanctions on the North, Yonhap reported.

Cui said that there is little possibility of a complete denuclearization all at once as required by the US. "The US needs to reconsider its complete denuclearization proposal and take real action to promote the peace."



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