Saturday, 16 October, 2021

NEWS in brief

North Korea open to ending war if conditions met, says Kim’s sister

SEOUL: The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says they are willing to resume talks with the South if it ends its "hostile policies", reports BBC.

Kim Yo-jong was responding to a renewed call from the South to officially declare an end to the Korean War. The conflict, which split the peninsula into two, ended in 1953 with an armistice and not a peace treaty. The two countries have technically been at war ever since, and locked in a sometimes tense relationship.

This week, South Korean president Moon Jae-in called for the two Koreas and their allies - the US which backs the South, and China which is the North's biggest economic partner - to declare a formal end to the conflict and bring peace to the peninsula.

The idea was initially dismissed by a top North Korean minister as "premature".

But in an unexpected statement released on Friday through state media, Ms Kim said the idea was "admirable".

However she added that the North would only be willing to discuss the proposal if the South stopped what she called "hostile policies" towards them.

"What needs to be dropped is the double-dealing attitudes, illogical prejudice, bad habits and hostile stand of justifying their own acts while faulting our just exercise of the right to self-defence," she said in a statement.

"Only when such a precondition is met, would it be possible to sit face to face and declare the significant termination of war."

South Korea earlier this month tested its first submarine-launched ballistic missile, just hours after the North tested their own weapon.

North Korea has also often criticised South Korea's annual military drills with the US.

Relations between the two countries have not improved much since denuclearisation talks between Kim and US president Donald Trump soured in 2019.

Moon, who has made engagement with the North a cornerstone of his presidency, has previously argued that a declaration to end the war would encourage the North to denuclearise.

North Korea in turn has called for crippling economic sanctions to be lifted first.

But the US has repeatedly said that North Korea must abandon its nuclear weapons first before any sanctions can be lifted.