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Thursday, June 20
The Indiana Daily Student


North Korea calls for peace talks

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea proposed Monday that a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War be signed this year, saying a return to negotiations on its nuclear program depends on better relations with Washington and the lifting of sanctions.

The North has long demanded a peace treaty, but Robert King, President Barack Obama’s special envoy for human rights in North Korea, said Monday in Seoul that the communist regime must improve its “appalling” human rights record before any normalization of relations.

“It’s one of the worst places in terms of lack of human rights,” he said. “Improved relations between the United States and North Korea will have to involve greater respect for human rights by North Korea.”

Washington and Pyongyang have never had diplomatic relations because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, thus leaving the peninsula technically at war. North Korea, the U.S.-led United Nations Command and China signed a cease-fire, but South Korea never did.

The United States has resisted signing a treaty with North Korea while it possesses nuclear weapons. Washington has said, however, that the subject can be discussed within the framework of six-nation negotiations aimed at ridding Pyongyang of atomic weapons. Those talks have not been held for more than a year.

But the North indicated Monday that it won’t rejoin the nuclear forum until talks begin on a peace treaty. The communist country pulled out of the nuclear talks last year to protest international sanctions imposed for its launch of a long-range missile.

South Korea is also suspicious of the North’s calls for a peace treaty, which Seoul has said are a tactic to delay its denuclearization.

The North’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the absence of a peace treaty is a “root cause of the hostile relations” with the U.S. The ministry called for a peace treaty to be signed this year, which, it emphasized, marks the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.

During the talks, North Korea had agreed to disarm in exchange for economic aid, security assurances and diplomatic recognition.

North Korea also suggested that the withdrawal of sanctions could lead to a speedy resumption of the talks.

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