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April 19, 2018
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

On Wednesday, South Korea confirmed that it has been in talks with the U.S. and North Korea about negotiating a treaty to formally end the Korean War, which stopped in 1953 with an armistice signed by America, China, and North Korea. South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-yong said that he, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, and other Trump administration officials "held in-depth discussions" last week in Washington "on various ways of how to end hostilities and eventually establish a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula."

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are meeting in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) on April 29, and President Trump confirmed Wednesday that he sent CIA Director Mike Pompeo to meet with Kim earlier this month to help lay the groundwork for a Trump-Kim summit in late May or June. On Tuesday, Trump said Kim and Moon "have my blessing to discuss the end of the war."

Negotiating a formal peace treaty would require the participation of China and the U.S. as well as the Koreas. A spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that "China's attitude is open and supportive to any peaceful means to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue through consultations," but Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea expert at Beijing's Renmin University, told The New York Times that Trump's hard line on trade "is complicating and undermining cooperation." If the U.S. wants to sign a treaty with Pyongyang, "it has to talk to China, and the United States has to recognize North Korea diplomatically," Cheng added. "A treaty is not a memorandum or a communiqué."

It's an open question what Pyongyang would give up or demand in the treaty — a withdrawal of America's 28,500 troops from South Korea would probably be a nonstarter, for example, but a reduction might align with Trump's goals and China's. You can read more about the sticking points at The New York Times. Peter Weber