The Joe Biden Administration has made it clear, once again, that it wants to normalize ties with North Korea through peaceful negotiation in order to ensure peace in the Korean Peninsula. Hence, the US officials have discussed a possible End-of-War Declaration with its ally in the region, South Korea. According to sources close to the White House, it would be crucial to end the decades-long conflict between the two Koreas in near future.
Talking to the media in Seoul, a South Korean Ministry of Unification official has said that the US and South Korean officials discussed various aspects of the proposed Declaration. Without specifying when those discussions took place, the official stressed: "As the matter has been discussed several times between the North and the US, once the ROK-US consultation is completed, there will be ways to resolve such conditions through dialogue and consultations with the North."
It may be noted that the former Donald Trump Administration launched dialogues with the North in 2018 after an initial period of tensions. Three inter-Korean Summits, too, took place in 2018 before the heads of three states met in 2019.
Without making any direct comment on the US-South Korea talks, a senior official of the Joe Biden Administration has hinted that the bilateral talks took place last week, as Washington DC continued to pursue peace between the two Koreas. "The US remains committed to achieving lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and diplomacy with the DPRK. That is why we remain prepared to engage in diplomacy with DPRK," he added. According to the official, the Declaration is being prepared in such a manner so that North Korea would receive it well. The Declaration would also safeguard US interests in the region, stressed the US official.
As South Korean President Moon Jae-in's current term is all set to end in March 2022, the South Korean Unification Ministry official said that Seoul wanted to align the move with the goals set by the president. "The ROK Government aims to completely end the 68 years of abnormal ceasefire and pave the way for resuming the stalled denuclearization talks by promoting the End-Of-War Declaration on the Korean Peninsula," he told the media.
The official has opined that an end of the conflict could only allow all the parties to materialize a broader framework for peace. "The End-Of-War Declaration can be regarded as a door to a peace regime. It can be a very useful tool with a practical and sensible approach in which the two Koreas, and the US can build trust and start a dialogue, without having to charge an immediate expense, undergo abrupt changes in military status, and experience a shift in legal and institutional arrangements," the South Korean official said.