President Trump should rebuff South Korean and North Korean calls for an ‘end-of-war declaration' in the early stages of denuclearization negotiations, in the judgment of one senior Republican lawmaker.
“A declaration to the end of the war should be the very last thing that we give up,” Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., told the Washington Examiner.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to issue an “end-of-war declaration" — not to be confused with a formal peace treaty — in exchange for the inspection of an illicit North Korean nuclear site. Yoho, who chairs the Foreign Affairs subcommittee for Asia, lobbied against that trade during a recent trip to Seoul as well as a letter to Pompeo.
“If we were to do that, the [argument from] North Korea and from China would be that there is no more conflict and therefore there is no more need for U.S. troops on the peninsula,” he said during an interview Monday. “And so, there'd be pressure on us to remove those.”
Kang downplayed those concerns while airing her proposal in a recent interview with the Washington Post, arguing that such a “political” statement would engender trust without requiring an immediate treaty.
“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 said. “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.”
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Yoho couldn’t say if Pompeo and Kang agreed to that idea in advance of her public statements. Pompeo, who declined to say what he thought of the idea in advance, left North Korea unable to announce an agreement about the inspection of the Yongbyon site.
“We’re not going to talk about where we are in these negotiations except for things we have agreed to release with the North Koreans,” he said.
Yoho suggested he shouldn’t feel undue pressure from Kang or from the Kim regime. “I feel like the United States is holding the card here,” he told the Washington Examiner. “For North Korea to benefit from a free economy and to benefit like South Korea did, they've got everything to gain. We've really got nothing to lose at this point. it's the sanctions that brought them to the table. We want to continue that pressure on them.”