S. Korea dismisses US Republican lawmakers’ letter opposing end-of-war declaration

Posted on : 2021-12-09 17:33 KST Modified on : 2021-12-09 17:47 KST
The lawmakers, led by Rep. Young Kim, wrote that such a declaration would “undermine and destabilize the security of the Korean peninsula”
A portion of the letter sent by Rep. Young Kim and other Republican lawmakers (screen capture from Rep. Young Kim's website)
A portion of the letter sent by Rep. Young Kim and other Republican lawmakers (screen capture from Rep. Young Kim's website)

US Rep. Young Kim, along with 34 other Republican members of the US House of Representatives, sent a letter to the Biden administration on Tuesday expressing opposition to an end-of-war declaration that’s not predicated on North Korea’s commitment to denuclearize and respect human rights. The South Korean government cautioned against putting too much weight on the letter, noting that there is a range of opinions about an end-of-war declaration in Congress, including support.

An official from Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that while Kim and other Republican lawmakers had voiced their concerns about an end-of-war declaration, various opinions have been expressed in Congress, including understanding and support for such a declaration.

The Korean official mentioned that US Rep. Brad Sherman had proposed a bill in May that calls for diplomatic engagement with North Korea and includes support for formally ending the Korean War. The bill has been cosponsored by more than 30 US representatives. In addition, the official noted that Sherman and other members of Congress had sent a letter to Biden on Nov. 4 urging him to formally end the war.

The Korean official underscored that there are varying opinions about an end-of-war declaration in the US. The Foreign Affairs Ministry’s unusual decision to call a briefing about developments in the US Congress appears to reflect concerns about a growing sense that the US’ diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics has sapped momentum for an end-of-war declaration.

“We are gravely concerned that this declaration, instead of promoting peace, would seriously undermine and destabilize the security of the Korean peninsula,” Kim and the other US representatives said in the letter, which they sent to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US national security advisor Jake Sullivan, and the US special representative for North Korea, Sung Kim. They also urged the Biden administration “to engage with your South Korean counterparts on the clear dangers and risks of this strategy.”

“An end of war declaration also poses serious risks for U.S. forces on the peninsula and the stability for the region,” the lawmakers said in the letter. “Opening the door for considering [. . .] the removal of U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula before the North has fully denuclearized would have disastrous consequences for U.S. national security, erode our combined deterrence, and jeopardize the lives of tens of millions of Americans, Koreans, and Japanese.”

“An end-of-war declaration would not be a peace treaty with legal binding,” a Foreign Affairs Ministry official said in response to the letter, reiterating that the Korean government seeks to use an end-of-war declaration “to prime the pump for denuclearization talks.”

By Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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