Two Koreas to discuss announcing official end to war, report says

Two Koreas to discuss announcing official end to war, report says

Kim Jong Un hobnobbed with a visiting Chinese ballet troupe as he capped a weekend of celebrations in the North Korean capital that conspicuously lacked a show of military might that marked many previous festivals.

In pictures released by state media from a ballet performance late on Monday, Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, were seen applauding, posing with dancers, and laughing with the head of the Chinese Communist Party's worldwide liaison department, Song Tao. Known in the country as the "Day of the Sun", it fell this year on Sunday.

Song led a Chinese troupe to North Korea for the festival.

Trump agreed last month to the landmark summit with the nuclear-armed North, but a specific date or venue has not been set.

China, North Korea's traditional ally and biggest trading partner, has backed worldwide sanctions against the reclusive regime over a series of nuclear and missile tests by the North, which had frayed their relations.

Kim made a surprise visit to Beijing in late March to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, which was seen as benefiting both countries.

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But in late March, Kim made a visit to Beijing, his first known journey overseas since he took power in 2011.

The comments by culture minister Do Jong-whan came as the country's conservative newspaper Munwha Ilbo said the two Koreas were discussing plans to announce an official end to the military conflict on the peninsula.

The upcoming summit of the leaders of the two Koreas scheduled for April 27 is expected to be an overture to a possible meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, Rhee Sang Hyong, a principal researcher at South Korea's Sejong Institute and President of the Korean Nuclear Policy Society, told TASS on Monday. With that in mind, the South has already started to renovate the Peace House at Panmunjom to greet North Korean delegates ahead of the inter-Korean summit, leading up to the meeting between the two leaders. It also wants to strengthen ties with the United States ahead of the country's planned meeting with the North.

The two Koreas have yet to sign a peace treaty to replace the 1953 armistice that ended combat operations in the Korean war, with the USA and North Korea still at loggerheads after the three-year conflict ended.

One way to resolve the conflict could involve returning the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone to its original state, the Munhwa Ilbo newspaper said.

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