North Korea has rebuffed South Korea’s push for a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War, calling it a potential “smokescreen” to cover up hostile U.S. policy

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea rebuffed South Korea’s push for a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War as a way to restore peace, saying Friday such a step could be used as a “smokescreen covering up the U.S. hostile policy” against the North.

In a speech at the U.N. General Assembly earlier this week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in reiterated his calls for the end-of-the-war declaration that he said could help achieve denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Ri Thae Song dismissed Moon’s call as premature so long as U.S. policies were unchanged. “It should be clearly understood that the declaration of the termination of the war is of no help at all to stabilizing the situation of the Korean Peninsula at the moment but can rather be misused as a smokescreen covering up the U.S. hostile policy,” Ri said.

He said American weapons and troops deployed in South Korea and its vicinity and regular U.S. military drills in the region “all point to the U.S. hostile policy toward (North Korea) getting vicious day by day.” North Korea has also long described U.S.-led economic sanctions as proof of U.S. hostility against the North.

The Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula in a technical state of war. North Korea has steadily wanted to sign a peace treaty with the United States to formally end the war and for subsequent improved relations, sanctions relief and the reduction or withdrawal of the 28,500 U.S. troops deployed in South Korea.

No such announcement was made as the diplomacy faded to a stalemate over easing the sanctions in return for North Korea denuclearizing.

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