Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should soften his negotiating stance in the next round of talks with North Korea, according to South Korea’s top diplomat.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha wants Pompeo to agree to North Korea’s call for an “end-of-war declaration” that would mark a significant symbolic milestone on the path to a formal end to the Korean War, which is officially in an armistice. Pompeo has avoided taking that step, but Kang believes the declaration should be made in exchange for North Korea keeping a promise to dismantle a nuclear site.

“What North Korea has indicated is they will permanently dismantle their nuclear facilities in Yongbyon, which is a very big part of their nuclear program,” Kang told the Washington Post. “If they do that in return for America’s corresponding measures, such as the end-of-war declaration, I think that’s a huge step forward for denuclearization.”

Pompeo, who is traveling to Pyongyang for meetings Sunday, declined to shed any light on his thinking about the “end-of-war declaration” during a press briefing Wednesday.

“I’m not going to comment on the progress of the negotiations on the end-of-war declaration or any other items, only to say this: I’m very happy to be going back to get another chance to continue to advance the commitment that Chairman Kim and President Trump made back in Singapore in the second week of June,” he told reporters at the State Department.

Kang argued that the United States should not hold out, at the moment, for a full declaration of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program sites and stockpiles. That’s a major revelation in any negotiations over the ultimate destruction of the program.

“The past experience shows that the list and the verification about the list takes a lot of back-and-forth, and I think the last time things broke down precisely as we were working out a detailed protocol on verification after we had gotten the list,” she told the Post. "We want to take a different approach.”

North Korea watchers in the conservative wing of D.C.’s foreign policy establishment think that it is premature to yield to the regime’s call for an end-of-war declaration, because it gives away a significant bargaining chip and could lead to increased international pressure for the United States to diminish its military presence in South Korea.

“A peace declaration could have serious negative consequences for alliance security,” former CIA analyst Bruce Klingner wrote recently at the Heritage Foundation. “The source of tensions is not an armistice versus a peace declaration, but rather North Korea’s post-war actions including threats, attacks, forward-deployed conventional forces, and development of nuclear weapons.”

Kang defended her proposal as a more realistic tactic. “We know North Korea better than any party in this process,” she told the Post. “We are as keen and perhaps as committed as anybody on getting to complete denuclearization. ... Naivete is certainly not something that would characterize my government’s approach to North Korea.”