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North Korea proposed creating neutral state in 1987: declassified dossier

All News 02:30 March 30, 2018

SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) -- In the late 1980s, North Korea proposed creating a neutral state on the Korean Peninsula that could serve as a buffer zone in the region, declassified diplomatic documents showed Friday.

Then Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev delivered the North's secret proposal to then U.S. President Ronald Reagan during their summit in Washington on Dec. 9, 1987, according to the documents disclosed by the foreign ministry.

Under the plan, the North wanted to create a federation-style republic consisting of two different governments representing the two Koreas and declare it as a neutral state that could serve as a regional buffer zone, the documents said.

The North also called for the two Koreas to sign a nonaggression treaty and replace the current armistice with a peace treaty, while suggesting the new entity would join the United Nations under a single name.

In addition, Pyongyang sought to scrap all agreements or treaties reached with third parties deemed to be running counter to their pursuit of reunification, a demand interpreted as a way to put pressure on Seoul to walk away from its mutual defense treaty with the U.S.

The North suggested the two Koreas reduce the number of their respective troops to fewer than 100,000 as a step toward building a peace mood and called for the withdrawal of any nuclear weapons and foreign troops from the peninsula, apparently targeting U.S. troops stationed in the South.

The North's proposals decades ago are catching attention at a time when the two Koreas are poised to have what will be their third inter-Korean summit in late April to discuss ways to improve their bilateral relations long frayed by the North's continued missile and nuclear provocations.

The two Koreas technically remain in a state of war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not in a peace treaty.

According to a wire sent from the then South Korean ambassador to Seoul's headquarters dated Dec. 14, 1987, Gorbachev asked Colin Powell, Reagan's security adviser, whether he reviewed the North's proposals. Powell said he would review them soon and expressed hope for the issue to remain secret, the document stated.

Washington later said that is a matter that South Korea should deal with, calling the proposals unrealistic unless the North shows a willingness to establish trust.

It also mentioned the resumption of inter-Korean talks as a precondition for paving the way for peaceful coexistence of the two Koreas on the peninsula, calling for both Washington and Moscow to take mutually balanced measures to ease tensions in the region, the documents said.


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