South Korea wants peace summit with North, US, China

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Seoul Nov 13: South Korea's president today called for a summit with the United States, North Korea and China to formally end the war that has split the Korean peninsula for over 50 years.

President Roh Moo-hyun said such a meeting would help international efforts to scrap the North's nuclear weapons programme and the conclusion of a peace treaty to replace the fraying armistice that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War.

''In order to push for the prompt nuclear dismantlement of North Korea and the conclusion of a peace treaty, the leaders of the concerned countries need to make a joint declaration and set up a definite milestone,'' Roh said in a speech in Busan.

Roh proposed calling the meeting the: ''Four-Party Summit Declaration for Ending the War and Constructing a Peace Regime on the Korean Peninsula.'' Political analysts have said Roh is pressing for a summit to secure his political legacy, but stands little chance of brokering the first-ever meeting between the leaders of the United States and North Korea -- two long-time foes.

US President George W Bush and China's ambassador to South Korea have said a peace treaty cannot be reached until North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons programme.

''Declaring an end to the war after signing a peace treaty seems to be meaningless like proposing a toast after the party is over,'' Roh said.

US officials have stressed a coordinated and measured approach in rolling back North Korea's nuclear programme -- linking Pyongyang's achievements to appropriate rewards.


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