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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S. have effectively agreed on draft text of end-of-war declaration: FM Chung

Diplomacy 12:16 December 29, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, comments from fifth para; RECASTS 3rd para for clarity; ADDS byline)
By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Dec. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States have "effectively" agreed on the draft text of the proposed declaration of a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, Seoul's top diplomat said Wednesday amid their continued push to resume dialogue with North Korea.

Chung Eui-yong made the remarks during a press conference, noting he and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the progress in the allies' consultations over the declaration when they met on the margins of a Group of Seven session in Liverpool, Britain, earlier this month.

"Regarding the end-of-war declaration, South Korea and the U.S. have already shared the understanding on its importance, and the two sides have effectively reached an agreement on its draft text," Chung said.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong speaks during a press conference at the foreign ministry in Seoul on Dec. 29, 2021. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Though Seoul and Washington have made considerable progress over the declaration, its fate remains uncertain as Pyongyang has been unresponsive to their overtures for dialogue, with the five-year term of the Moon Jae-in administration set to end in May.

"Although North Korea showed a set of prompt, positive responses to the end-of-war declaration, we hope (it) will show a more concrete reaction," Chung said. "We are considering various ways on how to advance discussions with North Korea."

In September, Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, called the declaration an "interesting" and "admirable" idea but urged Seoul to drop what she called "hostile" policy toward Pyongyang in order to start relevant discussions.

Denuclearization negotiations between the U.S. and the North have remained stalled since the two countries' no-deal Hanoi summit in 2019.

Chung said the Seoul government is closely watching the North's key party meeting, which has been underway since Monday, to get a glimpse of the reclusive regime's foreign policy directions in the new year.

In regard to the Beijing Olympics, the minister reiterated Seoul is not considering joining the U.S.-led diplomatic boycott of the sporting event and will decide on how to send the government delegation in consideration of various factors.

"We had hoped that the Beijing Olympics would serve as an opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations, but I think such chances are virtually getting slimmer," Chung said.

But he stressed that the Moon administration will "not discard hopes" and cash in on all available chances to restart the stalled process for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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