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(NEW YORK POST) – North and South Korea are discussing plans to make a stunning announcement at their leaders summit next week: a permanent end to the 68-year state of war between the two, according to reports.
North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in may release a joint statement saying they will seek to end military conflict, an unidentified Seoul official told the Munhwa Ilbo newspaper, Bloomberg reported.
The two men are scheduled to meet April 27 in the border village of Panmunjon — the third-ever summit of leaders from the two Koreas.
Pyongyang and Seoul have technically been at war since the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended with a truce. Despite occasional flare-ups between the two nations in the years since the armistice, the two Koreas have managed to avoid an all-out war.
A successful summit could pave the way for a historic meeting between Kim and President Trump — the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.
“Ending the state of conflict is the core of the whole thing. Peace is as complicated as denuclearization,” John Delury, an associate professor of Chinese studies at Yonsei University in Seoul, told Bloomberg.
“There also has to be a process of actually delivering the peace,” he added.
Among the issues that would have to be addressed are the hundreds of thousands of troops along one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world; vessels patrolling both coasts; the South’s military alliance with the US; and the hosting of American forces.
One way to ease tensions could involve returning the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone to its original state, Munhwa Ilbo reported.
Meanwhile, a Seoul official said Tuesday that South Korean security officials may visit Pyongyang ahead of the summit in hopes of getting Kim to reaffirm his commitment to denuclearize, Reuters reported.
“Even though our special envoys confirmed his denuclearization will, it is entirely different if the two leaders confirm it directly among themselves and put that into text,” Moon’s chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, told reporters.
“We expect the summit will confirm the denuclearization will (of North Korea),” he added.
The rogue regime has been pursuing nuclear and missile programs in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile that can strike the US mainland.
Pyongyang defends its programs as a necessary deterrent against a possible US invasion, prompting bellicose rhetoric from both sides.
The US, which has 28,500 troops deployed in South Korea, denies any invasion plans.