NEW YORK U.S. strategists are exploring how to implement a peace accord to officially end the 1950-53 Korean War and hope to start discussions with North Korea as soon as year end, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
North Korea is expected to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor in coming days in return for an aid shipment of 50,000 tons of fuel oil, a sign the Pyongyang government is moving ahead with its disarmament pledge, the Journal said on its online edition, citing senior U.S. officials.
If the disarmament process proceeds, the Bush administration hopes to start discussing a formal peace treaty with Pyongyang by year-end, the journal said, citing Christopher Hill, the assistant secretary of state leading Washington's talks with North Korea.
Some Bush administration officials hope so-called six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear program can evolve into a permanent forum for defusing security threats in Northeast Asia at a time when both Japan and China are bulking up militarily, the report said.
A truce has prevailed on the Korean peninsula since 1953. A formal peace treaty could coincide with the formation of a regional security body to resolve security disputes, along the lines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the report said.
Bush administration officials stress that pursuing broader regional security aims in Northeast Asia would be contingent upon North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's regime permanently dismantling its nuclear-arms programs, the Journal said.