US boycott of Beijing Olympics would undermine Seoul’s diplomacy hopes – Community News
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US boycott of Beijing Olympics would undermine Seoul’s diplomacy hopes

A US diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics would deal a blow to Seoul’s efforts to resume diplomacy with North Korea, experts say.

Last week, US President Joe Biden said his administration was “considering” a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in February.

Such a boycott would mean that the US would not send government officials to the Winter Games, although athletes would be able to participate.

Many human rights groups and some lawmakers in Congress called for a diplomatic boycott of the United States of the Beijing Olympics, citing the human rights violations in Beijing.

FILE - Activists hold a rally to protest the treatment of Uyghur women and call on the Biden government to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, outside the White House in Washington, on May 27, 2021.

FILE – Activists hold a rally to protest the treatment of Uyghur women and call on the Biden government to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, outside the White House in Washington, on May 27, 2021.

South Korea has pushed for a declaration to end the Korean War. That war ended with the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953, which announced a ceasefire rather than full peace.

Diplomatic setback

Speaking to the UN General Assembly in September, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said such a statement could be a “catalyst” for the resumption of dialogue with North Korea.

Seoul sees an end-of-war as the key to kick-starting nuclear talks with North Korea, which have stalled since October 2019. It also believes that the Beijing Olympics will provide a diplomatic venue where the leaders of the US, China, South Korea and North Korea could discuss such a statement.

“A declaration of the end of the war, in particular, is… almost a last-ditch effort by President Moon, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to engage in Olympic diplomacy again,” said Olivia Enos, senior policy analyst at the United Nations. Asian Studies. Center at The Heritage Foundation.

“But I think those efforts will probably be futile,” Enos added.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Lee In-young said on Friday that Seoul and Washington “have held very serious and in-depth consultations on the declaration of the end of the war”, and that “these talks are entering a final phase”.

FILE - US Special Representative to North Korea Sung Kim, left, and South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young meet to discuss North Korean issues at the Unification Ministry in South Korea, Seoul, 22 June 2021.

FILE – US Special Representative to North Korea Sung Kim, left, and South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young meet to discuss North Korean issues at the Unification Ministry in South Korea, Seoul, 22 June 2021.

Washington, however, has not publicly supported Seoul’s proposal. After talks with her South Korean and Japanese counterparts last week, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the US was “very pleased with talks” with Seoul and Tokyo on the matter, without giving further details.

Security issues

Washington has been reluctant to accept Seoul’s proposed end-of-war declaration for fear it could undermine East Asia’s security, experts say.

Bruce Klingner, senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at The Heritage Foundation, said: “The US is not interested in a declaration of the end of the war, but discusses it only after a valuable ally raises the topic.”

David Maxwell, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said: “The US is also concerned about the political war strategy of North Korea, China and Russia. They have already laid the groundwork for blaming the US for the not reaching an end-of-war.”

The VOA’s Korean Service asked for comment on a declaration of the end of the war from South Korea’s presidential office, but received no response.

Possible consequences

Some expressed concern that declaring a formal end to the war could undermine the United Nations Command (UNC) presence in South Korea, leading to calls for the withdrawal of US troops from the country.

Bruce Bennett, a deputy international/defence researcher at the RAND Corporation, said: “The statement could provide some sort of justification for North Korea to push for the termination of the ceasefire agreement and the dissolution of UNC.”

As a US-led multilateral force, the UNC defends South Korea and enforces the Korean ceasefire agreement.

FILE - South Korean and American soldiers stand guard outside the conference building of the United Nations Military Ceasefire Commission during a visit by South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young to the south side of the Panmunjom Armistice Village i

FILE – South Korean and American soldiers stand guard outside the conference building of the United Nations Military Ceasefire Commission during a visit by South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young to the south side of the Panmunjom Armistice Village i

“We would work our way towards the dissolution of the only internationally recognized legal instrument that has prevented the resumption of hostilities in the peninsula” as it will call for UN Security Council Resolution 84, which activated the UNC, to be passed in General Robert Abrams, former commander of United States Forces Korea, said at a virtual forum held last week by The Korea Society.

Earlier this month, Kim Song, the UN ambassador to North Korea, said: “Immediate measures must be taken to dismantle the UNC in South Korea.”

A declaration of the end of the war, however, does not have the legal authority to automatically end the UNC or the ceasefire, but could nevertheless provide justification for such calls, Klingner said.

Klingner said that, beyond the impact on UNC, abruptly declaring the end of the war “could generate a knock-on effect” on other actions that could undermine security in the region, such as removing about 28,000 U.S. troops. from South Korea and ending joint US-South Korean military exercises.

Scott Snyder, director of the US-Korea policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations, said: “The main effect of an end-of-war declaration is to misrepresent the real situation on the ground. .” Snyder added: “The key to achieving an end-of-war declaration is to achieve the peace conditions necessary to declare that the war is indeed over.”

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