World Bulletin / News Desk
North Korea has called for an end to military hostilities with its neighbor South Korea from this week – just three days before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s planned arrival in the South.
The North's official KCNA news agency announced the proposal Monday, citing the country’s leading military body – the National Defense Commission.
Multiple conflicts since the 1950-53 Korean War officially ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty have claimed dozens of casualties on both sides – including 50 from the South in 2010 alone.
This year the Koreas have exchanged hundreds of artillery shells along their western sea border.
Last Thursday and again on Sunday, the North test-fired short-range missiles into the sea off its eastern coast – in an apparent breach of United Nations resolutions.
The North’s latest call for peace came amid speculation over China’s role on the Korean Peninsula.
This Thursday’s planned trip by Xi is set to be the first time in more than 20 years that a sitting Chinese president will have visited South Korea before first travelling to the North.
Despite being a traditional ally of North Korea, Beijing has been strengthening ties with the South. Last Friday, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang highlighted China’s role “as a close neighbor to both South Korea and North Korea.”
While the North’s leader Kim Jong-un has not yet been invited to Beijing since he took power in 2011, South Korean President Park Geun-hye has already met with Xi four times after assuming office in 2013.
Despite an apparent willingness to instigate peace, North Korea also made it clear Monday that it has no plan to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
The country’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper dismissed the South’s demand that the North set aside its nuclear ambitions as a “stupid delusion.”
The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is expected to be one of the key agenda items when Park and Xi hold talks later this week.Last Mod: 30 Haziran 2014, 11:57