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North Korea says peace treaty key to nuclear issue

July 22, 2005

By Jon Herskovitz

SEOUL (Reuters) – Striking a peace treaty to replace the
armistice that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War would resolve the
nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula, a spokesman for North
Korea’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The comments, carried by the North’s official KCNA news
agency, came before a meeting of regional powers in Beijing on
Tuesday for talks aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear
weapons programs in exchange for security guarantees and
economic assistance.

“Replacing the ceasefire mechanism by a peace mechanism on
the Korean peninsula would lead to putting an end to the U.S.
hostile policy toward the DPRK, which spawned the nuclear issue
and the former’s nuclear threat,” a foreign ministry spokesman
said in the report carried by KCNA.

He said this would “automatically result in the
denuclearisation of the peninsula.”

DPRK is short for North Korea’s official name, the
Democratic people’s Republic of Korea. The Korean War ended in
an armistice and not a full peace treaty.

The main countries involved in the Korean War — the United
States, China and North and South Korea — last held talks on a
peace treaty in Geneva beginning in late 1997.

U.S. officials have said they are looking for North Korea
to respond to a security guarantee and energy aid offer made at
the last round of the six-party nuclear talks in June 2004.

They have said their top priority is for North Korea to
dismantle its nuclear programs and then Washington could
discuss other issues, such as normalising ties.

STRONG IMPETUS

The North Korean spokesman said success in striking a peace
deal would “give a strong impetus to the process of the
soon-to-be-resumed six party talks to settle the nuclear
issue.”

KCNA also reported on Friday that Pyongyang’s delegation
for the six-party talks had left for Beijing.

North Korean analysts have noted that Pyongyang has often
tried to muddy the waters before major negotiations by bringing
up conditions and demands.

Chinese media reported on Thursday that North Korea is
willing to resolve the crisis over its nuclear programs and
normalising relations with Washington was key to a deal.

South Korea has offered to supply North Korea with 2,000
megawatts of electricity — which would double the North’s
power out — if Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear programs.

Seoul said the overriding concern at the Beijing talks next
week is ending Pyongyang’s atomic ambitions.

Japan has mentioned it would like to address the issue of
its citizens abducted by the North while U.S. officials have
mentioned touching on North Korea’s human rights record.

“The subject of the six party talks is the dismantlement of
North Korea’s nuclear programs and the denuclearisation of the
Korean peninsula. Those other issues cannot be the subject of
the talks,” Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-soon told
reporters.

North Korea has stayed away for the six-party talks that
also involve South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and
Russia for over a year.

All of the parties, including North Korea, have called for
substantive progress at the discussions in Beijing.

(With additional reporting by Jack Kim)




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