North Korea has expressed its readiness to resume inter-Korean talks on officially ending the 1950-53 Korean War based on mutual respect.
“I believe only when fairness and mutual respect can be maintained smooth communication between the North and the South can take place,” said Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
She said that Pyongyang was willing to consider holding another inter-Korean summit with Seoul to resolve longstanding issues if mutual respect between the neighboring rivals can be assured.
"Issues such as meaningful and timely declaration of an end to the war, reopening the joint liaison office and a summit meeting between the North and South can be resolved in the near future through constructive discussion,” Kim declared.
Kim, who is an adviser and confidant of her older brother, said she sensed a strong desire for peace from leaders in South Korea, adding that leaders in Pyongyang shared the same emotions. "We are no different in wishing for the same."
Her comments came after South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is nearing the end of his tenure, repeated a call for a formal declaration of the end of the Korean War.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Moon stated that such a declaration could help in achieving denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
He said he aimed to reach that goal in the peace process before the 2022 presidential election.
On Friday, North Korea urged the United States and South Korea to abandon their hostile policy and double standards towards Pyongyang before formal talks can commence.
Pyongyang cut all its communications lines with Seoul last year, including a hotline between the two nations' leaders, in protest at anti-North propaganda activities in the South.
Moon and Kim held their first meeting in April 2018 in Panmunjom village located on the border between the two countries.
In that meeting, Moon and Kim promised “a new era of peace” on the Korean Peninsula.
Moon also brokered a meeting between the then-US president Donald Trump and Kim, which led to two more meetings. There was no breakthrough in the talks as the US refused to lift its sanctions in exchange for concessions from the North.
The US has been opposed to North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, which Pyongyang says are a deterrent against a potential foreign invasion.
It views the joint war games between the US and its allies in the region, particularly South Korea, as a rehearsal for war, and has repeatedly urged the South and Japan to stop participating in those exercises.
North and South Korea are technically still at war because the Korean War ended with an armistice not a peace treaty in 1953.