Trump-Kim talks tackle Korean War end?

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WASHINGTON — The declaration of an ending to the 1950-1953 Korean war could be on the table during the second round of summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam from 27 to 28 February.

Trump announced Hanoi as the location on Twitter, hailing as “very productive” the preparatory talks between diplomats from the two countries.

“I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim & advancing the cause of peace!” he said.

However, Stephen Biegun, the US Special Representative for North Korea, said preparatory talks had been productive, but more dialogue was needed ahead of the talks.

Biegun on Saturday briefed South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on his Pyongyang visit, shortly after Trump revealed the summit would take place in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.

“We have some hard work to do with the DPRK between now and then,” Biegun told Kang, adding: “I’m confident that if both sides stay committed, we can make real progress here.

Ending the Korean War?

Attention will now focus on whether the US team have offered to lift some economic sanctions in return for Pyongyang taking concrete steps toward denuclearization.

Discussions on declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War could also have been on the table, with Biegun last week saying Trump was “ready to end this war.”

The three-year conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas still technically at war, with the US keeping 28,500 troops in the South.

Experts say the most likely scenario in Vietnam is that the concerned parties — North and South Korea, the US and China — to declare a formal end to the war as a political statement.
At their landmark summit in Singapore last year, the mercurial US and North Korean leaders produced a vaguely worded document in which Kim pledged to work towards “the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

But progress has since stalled, with the two sides disagreeing over what that means.

Experts say tangible progress on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons will be needed for the second summit if it is to avoid being dismissed as “reality TV.”

On Friday Trump tweeted that North Korea will become a “great Economic Powerhouse” under Kim.

“He may surprise some but he won’t surprise me, because I have gotten to know him & fully understand how capable he is,” said Trump.

North Korea, which holds most of the peninsula’s mineral resources, was once wealthier than the South, but decades of mismanagement and the demise of its former paymaster the Soviet Union have left it deeply impoverished.

But Park Won-gon, a professor at South Korea’s Handong University, said Trump’s remarks may not align with Pyongyang’s current agenda.

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