South Korea is considering changing a decades-long armistice deal with North Korea to a peace agreement, as the leaders of the long-time rivals prepare for a historic summit later this month.
“As one of the plans, we are looking at a possibility of shifting the Korean Peninsula’s armistice to a peace regime,” a high-ranking South Korean presidential official said on Wednesday. “We want to include discussions to end hostile acts between the South and North.”
The two Koreas have been separated by a heavily-militarized border since the end of the Korean War seven decades ago. When the three-year war ended in 1953, the two countries agreed to a truce agreement but not a peace treaty. As a result, while they haven’t been at war, they haven’t been at peace either for the last 68 years.
The two neighbors started unexpected overtures to one another in January, when Pyongyang announced its willingness to participate in the Winter Olympics in the South. South Korean President Moon Jae-in is now scheduled to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the South Korean village of Panmunjom on April 27.
Kim would become the first North Korean leader to cross the border since the Korean War.
Meanwhile, a possible meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump is being planned to be held in late May or early June.
In groundbreaking news, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that US Secretary of State nominee and CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a secret visit to Pyongyang over the Easter weekend, in a historic development that had been kept secret at the time.
Washington and Pyongyang have no diplomatic relations. The US has imposed many rounds of sanctions on North Korea, has substantial military presence near the country, and has numerously threatened to invade it over its weapons programs.
If held successfully, the Trump-Kim summit — a first between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president — would not only mark a sudden change in America’s posture toward North Korea but could also potentially lead to the easing of restrictions on North Korea.
In Pyongyang, Pompeo reportedly discussed preparations for the summit.