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Moon says North Korea has agreed 'in principle' to formally end Korean War

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Moon says North Korea has agreed 'in principle' to formally end Korean War
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is seen Monday during a visit to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia. Photo by Lukas Coch/EPA-EFE

Dec. 13 (UPI) -- In Australia to commemorate a new defense agreement, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday that North Korea, China and the United States could soon bring about a formal end to the Korean War, which ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Moon is in Australia to mark a $720 million defense deal, in which Korean defense company Hanwha will sell weapons and vehicles to the Australian military.

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In a press briefing, Moon said South Korea, North Korea, China and the United States have all agreed in principle to bring the Korean conflict to an official end.

The "in principle" part of such an agreement, however, may signal a difficulty in actually getting a deal done. Moon noted that North Korea insists that any peace treaty to end the war must first be preceded by an end to U.S. "hostilities" toward Pyongyang.

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"Because of that, we are not able to sit down for a negotiation on the declarations between South and North Korea, and those between North Korea and United States," Moon said, according to The Guardian.

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"And we hope that talks will be initiated. We are making efforts towards that."

Moon said he's hopeful that a peace declaration could also bring a breakthrough for denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and stressed the importance of renewed U.S.-North Korea talks.

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The Korean War began in 1950 and ended three years later without a formal peace treaty, meaning North and South Korea are still technically at war. Moon is pushing for an end before his five-year term as president ends in the spring.

At the United Nations General Assembly in September, Moon again called for a treaty to end the war. Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said then that Pyongyang might be open to the idea.

North Korea has also said that it won't seriously consider a peace treaty while there are still 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea and the U.S. military continues to perform drills with South Korean forces.

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