A South Korean official on Wednesday said the country would consider negotiating a peace treaty with North Korea following the rogue state’s denuclearization, according to local news outlet Yonhap.
That followed daily newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reporting on Tuesday that the two countries were already in talks to announce a permanent end to the officially declared military conflict between them.
Ahead of a summit next week between North Korean premier Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, lawmakers from the neighboring states were thought to be negotiating the details of a joint statement that could outline an end to the confrontation.
Kim and Moon could also discuss returning the heavily fortified demilitarized zone separating them to its original state, Munhwa Ilbo said.
Pyongyang and Seoul have technically been at war since the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended with a truce — and not a peace treaty. Geopolitical tensions have occasionally flared up since the armistice, although both countries have so far managed to avoid another devastating conflict.
A successful summit between the Koreas later this month could help pave the way for a meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump. The U.S. president and North Korean leader are poised to hold talks in late May or June, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Despite the talk of a potential peace agreement, there may be some technical roadblocks to such a deal.
For one, Pyongyang does not view Seoul as an authorized participant in peace talks, a former CIA official told CNBC.
“When I met with North Korean officials last year, they said that South Korea is not ‘qualified’ to participate in peace treaty negotiations because it didn’t sign the armistice and didn’t have wartime operational control of its forces,” Bruce Klingner, senior research fellow of Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation, told CNBC.
“Technically, South Korea is not a signatory to the armistice and a peace treaty would require UN action,” Klingner added. “The previous North Korean position has been for three parties – North Korea, China, and the U.S. — to sign a final peace treaty.”