P. S. Suryanarayana

Meet sets tone and pace for a new order of peace

SINGAPORE: In a historic future-setting accord, the two Koreas on Thursday “agreed to resolve the issue of unification on their own initiative” and in accordance with “the spirit of by-the-Korean people themselves.”

After two days of intensive talks in Pyongyang, President Roh Moo-hyun of the Republic of Korea (RoK) and Chairman Kim Jong-il of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) pledged to set the tone and pace for the establishment of a new order of peace on the divided peninsula that the two countries share. Co-prosperity was emphasised as an objective.

The “need to build a permanent peace regime” was portrayed as the centrepiece of “the reunification-oriented” agreement. Towards reunification itself, the two countries expressed readiness to “transcend the differences in ideology and systems”. Also spelt out was the willingness to associate themselves with China and the U.S., which were not mentioned by name, though, to fashion a peace structure.

Raising visions of a de-nuclearised peninsula, the two Koreas “agreed to work together to implement smoothly” the incremental accords already reached under the China-hosted six-party talks. The others in this process are the U.S., Japan, and Russia. The DPRK’s willingness to disable and eventually dismantle its nuclear facilities, as announced by China on Wednesday, punctuated the Kim-Roh summit.

In an eight-point agreement announced after only the second inter-Korean summit in over 50 years, the two leaders agreed to “oppose [any future] war”.

Referring to the 1950-53 Korean War, the two leaders said they “recognise the need to end the current armistice regime and build a permanent peace regime”.

Complex formulation

And, in a complex formulation on how to transform the armistice accord into a peace treaty, the two sides “agreed to work together to advance the matter of having the leaders of the three or four parties directly concerned to convene on the peninsula and declare an end to the war [of 1950-53].”

“The three or four parties” are the DPRK, China, the U.S., and the UN, according to diplomatic sources. As the RoK was not formally a party to the old armistice accord, the two Koreas have agreed only to “closely work together to put an end to military hostilities, mitigate tensions, and guarantee peace on the Korean peninsula.” Other salient aspects include a decision to enhance economic cooperation and create “a maritime peace zone”, a move to “expand” the reunion of divided families and even “send a joint cheering squad to the 2008 Beijing Olympics”.

Corrections and clarifications