Two Koreas to formally end war
CIA director as Trump envoy had secret meeting with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang
17 April, 2018South Korean officials have discussed ways to formally end the Korean War with their counterparts in the United States and North Korea, officials in Seoul confirmed last week. The move comes amid thawing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and just days ahead of a 27 April meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Moon said, on 19 April, North Korea has expressed its commitment to “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula and is not seeking conditions. He added that big-picture agreements about denuclearisation, establishing a peace regime, and normalisation of relations between the two Koreas and the United States, should not be difficult to reach through summits between the North and South, and between the North and the United States.“I don't think denuclearisation has different meanings for South and North Korea. The North is expressing a will for a complete denuclearisation,” Moon said during a lunch with chief executives of Korean media companies. “They have not attached any conditions that the US cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea. All they are talking about is the end of hostile policies against North Korea, followed by a guarantee of security.”Diplomats have tried to forge a lasting peace treaty between the two countries for decades. The Korean War has never technically ended since it began in 1950, although a truce, called the Korean Armistice Agreement, was forged in 1953. That led to the creation of the Demilitarised Zone that divided the peninsula in two and effectively ended the conflict. A permanent peace treaty would replace the armistice and would need to be signed by both Koreas, as well as by the United States and China, who were signatories to the original agreement after backing the two countries during the war.Meanwhile, it became clear that the director of the CIA Mike Pompeo had a secret meeting with Kim Jong-un in North Korea during Easter, US President Donald Trump has confirmed. Two people with direct knowledge of the trip have told the Washington Post that Pompeo met with the North Korean leader as part of an effort to lay the groundwork for direct talks between Trump and Kim. The US president said the two nations were speaking directly ahead of planned talks in late May or early June. Speaking to the press last Tuesday at his Florida retreat in Mar-a-Lago, sitting alongside visiting Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said he gave his “blessing” to North and South Korea to declare a formal end to the Korean conflict. But he vowed to cancel the summit or “respectfully leave” it if the meeting “is not fruitful”.Trump also revealed that direct contacts were already taking place between senior US and North Korean officials. “We have also started talking to North Korea directly. We have had direct talks at very high levels, extremely high levels, with North Korea. And I truly believe there is a lot of good will. A lot of things are happening. Good things are happening,” Trump said. “We'll see what happens. Because it's the end result that counts, not the fact that we're thinking about having a meeting.” Until now, North Korea has defended its nuclear and missile programmes, which it pursues in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, as a necessary deterrent against perceived US hostility. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.