S Korea conditions discussion of peace treaty on restart of six-party talks

13:26, January 12, 2010      

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South Korea's Defense Minister Kim Tae-yong said Tuesday that progress in the denuclearization of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the resumption of the stalled six-party talks should come first before South Korea and the DPRK can discuss replacing an armistice with a peace treaty.

"I believe we can address the issue (of reaching a peace treaty) when the six-party talks restart and the DPRK's denuclearization process makes progress," Kim Tae-young said in a briefing.

"I believe South Korea is obviously part of the (armistice) agreement, although only three countries are signatory to the agreement," Kim said, referring to the truce involving the DPRK, China and the United States, which ended the 1950-53 Korean War and left South Korea and the DPRK technically at war.

Kim also added that the DPRK's intention is not yet clear.

The remarks come after the DPRK said Monday that it would discuss reaching a peace treaty with relevant state parties to replace the Armistice Agreement either in the framework of the six-party talks or in a "separate forum" as what the Joint Statement of September 2005 proposed.

The Joint Statement, reached during the fourth six-party talks, says "the directly related parties will negotiate a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at an appropriate separate forum."

Unlike Kim's remarks that South Korea should be part of the armistice agreement, Pyongyang in the past would not acknowledge Seoul as one of the parties directly engaged in it.

Seoul has been cautious in responding to the DPRK's proposal, with a South Korean foreign ministry official telling Xinhua later Monday on condition of anonymity that the DPRK's move is "not welcome" and local media quoting officials saying the suggestion is somewhat different from Seoul's position on such talks.

Seoul's Yonhap News Agency reported that the South Korean government is likely to make a formal response to the issue later after it thoroughly reviewed the DPRK's proposal.

Source: Xinhua
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