Seoul, Pyongyang agree to joint teams for Asian Games in Indonesia
SEOUL－The Republic of Korea aimed to make a war-ending declaration by the end of this year although the exact schedule and format can be dealt with flexibly, its foreign minister said on Monday.
Kang Kyung-wha told a news conference that though the schedule and format can be addressed flexibly, the government aimed to push for the declaration of an end to the 1950-53 Korean War by the end of this year.
ROK President Moon Jae-in and top leader of the Democratic People"s Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un agreed to turn the current armistice agreement into a peace treaty by the end of 2018 after holding the third inter-Korean summit on April 27.
Kim and US President Donald Trump agreed to build a lasting peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula and establish new bilateral relations at their first summit in Singapore last week.
The peninsula remains technically at war as the Korean War ended with armistice, not a peace treaty.
Kang said the ROK has been closely cooperating with the US side for the war-ending declaration, noting that China can play a "very significant role" in building peace on the peninsula.
She said Seoul will cooperate with Beijing on the issue.
The ROK top diplomat had a phone conversation earlier in the day with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
During the discussion, Pompeo told Kang that he would sit down face-to-face with his DPRK counterpart as early as possible. It indicated Pompeo"s willingness to quickly push for dialogue with the DPRK, Kang said.
Kang said the DPRK and the US would continue to talk frankly and build trust, noting that this will benefit relations on all sides.
About 28,500 US troops are stationed in the ROK.
Also on Monday, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to march together under a unified flag and form combined teams to compete in the Asian Games in Indonesia from mid-August to early September, they said in a statement.
Both sides also agreed at a round of talks on their heavily fortified border to hold a basketball match in Pyongyang on July 4, marking the anniversary of an inter-Korean agreement on unification, they said.
The athletes from the two sides will march together under a unified flag and the country name "Korea" during the opening and closing ceremony of the Asian Games, as they did in the Winter Olympics in the ROK in February.
They agreed to create combined teams for the games and for other international competitions, and will hold more discussions on details.
The basketball friendly will take place in Pyongyang next month and another match will be held in Seoul later in the year, they said in the statement.
The two countries plan to hold a series of talks in the coming days to discuss resuming reunions of families divided by the 1950-53 war; reconnecting the severed cross-border railway and road connections; and establishing a liaison office in the DPRK. Generals of the two neighbors met on Thursday and agreed to restore military hotline communication channels.
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