North Korea proposed talks on a peace treaty Monday, saying the issue could be discussed at a meeting of armistice signatories or in the six-party talks.
In a statement, a spokesman of the North's Foreign Ministry indicated that it could rejoin the six-party denuclearization talks to discuss the issue.
The South Korean government remained skeptical. An official said on condition of anonymity that the administration is reviewing the proposal and analyzing Pyongyang's real intention.
South and North Korea still remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
The armistice was signed by North Korea and China on one side and the U.S.-led United Nations Command on the other. South Korea was not a signatory.
But North Korea reportedly proposed discussing a peace treaty with South Korea, China and the U.S. during U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth's visit to Pyongyang in early December.
The statement, however, did not clarify with which countries it wants to have talks.
"We politely suggest that countries related to the truce accord have talks to switch the current armistice agreement into a peace treaty this year, which marks the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War," said the statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Pyongyang claimed that the nuclear issue wouldn't have happened if a peaceful regime had been established on the Korean Peninsula.
It also said the proposed talks can take place within the context of the stalled six-way talks.
The secretive state has boycotted the multilateral forum since the international community imposed financial sanctions following its nuclear test on May 25 last year.
"In terms of its nature and meaning, the peace treaty issue can be discussed within the framework of the six-party talks like the ongoing Washington-Pyongyang talks," the statement said, referring to the bilateral meeting between U.S. envoy Bosworth and North Korean officials late last year.
The communist state noted that the suspended six-way forum could be resumed soon if the international sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council last year are lifted.
"A conclusion of the peace treaty will help terminate the hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S., and positively promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula rapidly," the statement said.
Source: The Korea Times
North Korea Shows Photos of Attack Drills
One of 59 photos North Korea’s state-run TV displayed. The JoongAng Ilbo captured the still photo.
North Korea has recently carried out military drills apparently aimed at preparing for attacks on South Korea, the North’s state television station reported late Tuesday.
The Korean Central Television in Pyongyang ran 59 still photos of drills by the 105th Armored Division. The country’s leader, Kim Jong-il, visited the base for his first field inspection of 2010 and watched the exercise take place. The exact date of the exercise was not reported. He also made the unit his first destination for inspection last year.
In an indication that the North had directly targeted the South in its exercise, four of the photos showed signs bearing names of South Korean cities and highways. In one, a tank is seen passing a sign reading, “The Chungang Expressway, Chuncheon-Busan 374 km,” in reference to a highway that connects Gangwon province on the east coast and the Gyeongsang regions in the southeast.
The station reported that Kim was pleased with the preparedness of the division. It is the first unit that invaded Seoul at the onset of the Korean War in 1950.
While the North has been known to do military drills aimed at the South, it marked the first time that photos of such exercises were reported in its state media.
The timing of the release of the photos also raised eyebrows in Seoul. In its annual New Year’s Day editorial published in official newspapers, North Korea said it would try to improve inter-Korean relations and “open the way for national unification,” and that its consistent stand is “to establish lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and make it nuclear-free through dialogue and negotiations.”
The South Korean government was taken aback by the pictures and was still scrambling to determine the North’s intentions.
One government official said, “They can set up virtual targets or do whatever they want in military drills, but the releasing of photos is a very sensitive matter.”
Yoo Ho-yeol, professor of North Korean studies at Korea University in Seoul, said the North may have been trying to boost morale in the military - especially with the Dear Leader himself in attendance - and to send a message to the South.
“With their economy in turmoil [following the abrupt currency revaluation late last year], the North wanted to justify to the public that military has to be the focal point,” Yoo said. “Also, they had to know we’d see these pictures. They’re trying to tell us that we have to keep their military strength in mind when engaging in dialogues in the future.”
Source: JoongAng Daily