US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that he expects President Donald Trump to discuss the possibility of formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War at his next summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Trump and Kim are scheduled to meet in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 27-28 to discuss the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons program in exchange for US security guarantees.
An end-of-war declaration is a key concession North Korea has demanded in return for the denuclearization it committed to at the first Trump-Kim summit in Singapore in June.
"It's something we've had a lot of talks about," the top US diplomat said in an interview with Fox News held in Warsaw, Poland.
"In fact, my team will redeploy to Asia here in a day or two to continue conversations around all elements that were discussed back in Singapore. Remember we not only discussed denuclearization, but we talked about creating security mechanisms, peace mechanisms on the Korean Peninsula. I hope the two leaders have a chance to talk about that as well. I fully expect that they will."
The peace declaration under discussion is likely a political statement that is different from a peace treaty. A treaty would be legally binding and involve all the signatories to the armistice that ended the three-year conflict.
The ceasefire was signed by the US-led U.N. Command, North Korea and China.
Pompeo noted that the two leaders also talked about "a brighter future" for the North Korean people "if we can successfully get the result that Chairman Kim promised President Trump."
"Remember he made that commitment that they would denuclearize," he said. "And so we hope to make real progress along each of those elements of what the two leaders agreed to back in June."
Pompeo would not be drawn into a question about whether there is a deadline after which the US will snap back to its "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign against the North.
"One of the core principles of the Trump doctrine is we don't tell our adversaries what we're going to do," he said. "And so we've had lots of conversations about how we hope this proceeds, but I just don't have anything I can say about a deadline like you're supposing."
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim agreed last year to pursue an end-of-war declaration by the end of 2018, but it failed to materialize amid stalled negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. (Yonhap)