BREAKING — North and South Korea are reportedly discussing plans to formally end the 65-year-old military conflict between the two countries, South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported Tuesday.
Citing an unidentified senior government official with knowledge of diplomacy and security issues, the easing of military tensions and the end of the military confrontation is a high priority on the agenda of the summit scheduled for April 27 between the two leaders, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Newsweek reports that officials of the two countries are busy arranging the summit, according to South Korean news reports. Further meetings between representatives of the two Koreas are planned for this week to finalize the summit’s details, such as security protocols and media coverage, while a direct hotline between the countries’ leaders is expected to be established by Friday, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Tuesday.
The two leaders would meet for the first time in the Peace House, a building on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom where the warring factions signed an armistice in 1953, three years after the Korean War began. It would mark the first time a North Korean leader set foot on South Korean soil.
The armistice was never followed by a peace treaty. The two countries technically remained at war, establishing the 160-mile-long Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to function as a heavily guarded border area separating the two countries. Any talks on formally ceasing hostilities would involve discussing changes to the DMZ.
CNBC reports that 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 to date both countries have 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).