The Bush administration is reportedly considering the possibility of concluding a peace treaty with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea), even as it participates in six-party talks aimed at resolving nuclear issues. Some see this as a sign of U.S. desperation in the face of its growing isolation in the region, much of it the result of its “hostile policy” towards North Korea.

Technically, the two states have been at war since the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, because no peace treaty had ever been signed. This is illustrated most clearly by the occupation of the southern half of the Korean peninsula by tens of thousands of U.S. troops.

The DPRK, along with the peace and democratic movements in the south, resent this. North Korea has said repeatedly since the start of the nuclear crisis that it would discontinue its nuclear program if the U.S. were to pledge not to invade the north. The Bush administration initially took a hard line rejecting this position, but may be reconsidering it now for its own reasons.

Many nations in the region have been moving away from U.S. influence, especially China, Russia and South Korea. Both China and South Korea have been working economically with the DPRK.

South Korea, formerly a staunch U.S. ally opposed to the DPRK, has been steadily drifting away from U.S. influence, and starting to make its own policies regarding the DPRK. Former President Kim Dae-jung, who initiated the “Sunshine Policy,” which increased contact and cooperation between the nation’s two halves, in 1998, is scheduled for a return visit to the North at the end of June.

The south’s current president, Roh Moo-hyun has said in mid-May that he would like to meet with DPRK leader Kim Jong Il “anytime, anywhere” to discuss anything. The south’s reunification minister, Lee Jong-suk, reiterated the statement, saying on Korean television that he was determined to see a North-South summit occur before 2008, when President Roh’s term expires.

Such a summit would be the first since the last — and only — North-South summit in 2000, which produced the Joint Declaration of June 15, 2000. In the agreement, both sides agreed to settle the question of reunification without foreign interference.

Also problematic for the U.S. has been the stalemate reached in the six-party talks, which include Japan, the U.S., China, South Korea, Russia and the DPRK. While a tentative agreement was reached in 2005, where the DPRK agreed to call a halt to its nuclear program if the U.S. built light water reactors capable of supplying electricity, the talks hit a stalemate after the U.S. accused the DPRK of money-laundering and froze North Korean assets at certain banks.

Much of the U.S. money-laundering charges proved to be untrue, according to South Korea’s intelligence agency. The DPRK refuses to return to negotiations until the U.S. releases its funds.

The Bush administration, faced with the failure of its policies in Korea, has been forced to make a change in its policies. However, solidarity activists warn that no one should be fooled into thinking that the Bush administration wants anything other than “regime change” in the North.

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