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Updated: July 27, 2011 16:26 IST

North Korea demands peace treaty with U.S.

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Kim Kye Gwan, Vice-Foreign Minister of North Korea, arrives at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, on Tuesday.
AP Kim Kye Gwan, Vice-Foreign Minister of North Korea, arrives at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, on Tuesday.

North Korea demanded on Wednesday that the United States sign a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War, as a senior North Korean diplomat visited New York to negotiate ways to restart six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.

In an editorial marking the 58th anniversary of an armistice that ended the 1950-53 war, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency insisted that a peace treaty could go a long way toward resolving a deadlock over Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

North Korea has long called for a peace treaty with the United States since the armistice left the Korean peninsula in a technical state of war. Its latest push comes as North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan makes a fresh attempt to reopen six-nation talks that were last held in December 2008.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited Mr. Kim to New York to meet with U.S. officials later this week only after nuclear envoys from the Koreas held surprise talks last week.

Mr. Kim told reporters after landing on Tuesday in New York that he was “optimistic of the prospects for the six-way talks and the North Korea-U.S. relationship,” according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. “I believe North Korea-U.S. relations will improve, as now is the time for countries to reconcile.”

Despite Mr. Kim’s positive tone, North Korea is making clear ahead of the New York talks that it wants a separate dialogue on signing a peace treaty, in addition to six-nation nuclear negotiations, said Kim Keun—sik, a North Korea expert at Kyungnam University in South Korea.

The six-nation talks group the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia. They were initially designed to provide the North with security guarantees and economic assistance in return for its nuclear dismantlement.

Keywords: Korean war

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