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North Korea Renews Call for Peace Treaty Ahead of Nuclear Talks

North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan
North Korean first vice foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan. Photographer: Stephen Shaver/Bloomberg

North Korea renewed its call for a peace treaty with South Korea to replace a 1953 cease-fire agreement ahead of talks in New York this week on steps to revive multinational negotiations on its nuclear program.

“Concluding a peace agreement may be the first step for settling the Korean issue including the denuclearization,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said in an official commentary today. “Being a curtain-raiser to confidence-building, the conclusion of a peace agreement will provide an institutional guarantee for wiping out the bilateral distrust.”

The U.S. invited North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan to New York this week for what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said would be “an exploratory meeting” to determine if the North is willing to make genuine efforts toward scrapping its atomic weapons program.

North Korea and South Korea on July 22 agreed to try to revive the six-party forum on the North’s nuclear-weapons program, with the first formal discussions in months signaling a thaw in relations between the two foes after more than a year of rising tension. The U.S., China, Russia and Japan are also participants in the group.

North and South Korea remain technically at war after their 1950-1953 conflict, in which the U.S. and China fought on opposite sides.

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