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North Korea Crisis

Moon seeks official end to Korean War at Trump-Kim summit

Concerns raised over exclusion of China from potential declaration

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exchanged views on the denuclearization process on the northern side of Panmunjom on May 26. (South Korea Presidential Blue House via Yonhap)   © AP

SEOUL -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in is considering being present at the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore next month, with a view to announcing an official end to the Korean War, according to an official from the Blue House.

Moon wishes to participate in a trilateral summit after the two leaders' meeting, which is scheduled for June 12.

The South Korean president's hope is that, if the Trump-Kim talks go smoothly, the three countries can make a declaration that officially brings an end to hostilities. Fighting ceased in 1953 with the signing of an armistice, but a peace treaty has never been signed.

"We are just considering its possibility at a working level. Basically, it depends on the result of the summit meeting between Kim and Trump," said a spokesperson for the Blue House, who asked not to be named.

Moon met Kim at the North Korean leaders request at Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone on May 26. Pyongyang has made it clear that it requires security guarantees from Washington if it is to give up its nuclear and missile programs.

A declaration to end the war and subsequent peace treaty could form part of a U.S. promise not to invade North Korea.

But experts say that a declaration with no involvement from Beijing could raise technical issues as China was a signatory to the armistice agreement. Chinese troops had fought alongside the North Koreans against the U.S. and South Korea during the conflict.

"I worry that it can be an obstacle ahead of a peace treaty. We should think again whether the declaration is legitimate if it excludes China," said Jeong Se-hyun, a former South Korean unification minister, in a seminar. "That can be a complex issue between South Korea and China."

Preparations for the summit are ongoing. Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, where he is expected to meet Chinese officials before heading to the U.S. on Wednesday to meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The U.S. and North Korea are holding two sets of preparatory talks simultaneously. Discussions regarding the agendas for denuclearization are being conducted at Panmunjom, while the protocols for the June 12 meeting are being arranged in Singapore.

Washington has reiterated its requests for "complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization," while Pyongyang has sought security guarantees in return.

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