A Vancouver anti-war organization is hailing the historic agreement between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for peace in the Korean Peninsula.
“We welcome any negotiations towards peace,” Alison Bodine, who spoke on behalf of the Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
MAWO and Vancouver have played some roles in the unfolding of events related to North Korea.
In January this year, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and then U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hosted in Vancouver an international conference to ramp up pressure against North Korea and its nuclear weapons program.
For an alternative event, MAWO organized a lecture to discuss the roots of the tensions in the region.
Trump and Kim met in Singapore on June 12 in a first between leaders of their respective countries.
A joint statement by Trump and Kim committed to building a “lasting and stable peace regime” as well the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.
According to Bodine, “any negotiations that avoid war are positive”.
She also praised Trump’s declaration at a press conference following the summit that the U.S. will suspend joint military exercises with South Korea, which the U.S. president said are expensive and “very provocative”.
“That is definitely an important step towards peace,” Bodine said.
However, when MAWO holds its monthly peace rally Friday (June 15), the group will continue to hoist hands-off-North-Korea placards as it has done in previous demonstrations.
Bodine explained that although the Trump-Kim agreement is an important step, true peace can only be achieved upon the complete withdrawal of the more than 30,000 American military forces in the Korean Peninsula.
“To imagine an agreement between North and South Korea that is truly in the interest of the Korean people with the presence of troops is impossible,” she said. “The Korean people can’t have their self-determination with the U.S. troops there on the peninsula.”
On April 27 this year, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a historic meeting at the demilitarized zone dividing their two countries.
Kim and Moon agreed to work towards a peace treaty to officially conclude the Korean War that ended only with an armistice in 1953.
According to Bodine, U.S. military presence constitutes an “occupation” and a hindrance to peace.
“To imagine an agreement between North and South Korea that is truly in the interest of the Korean people with the presence of troops is impossible,” Bodine said. “The Korean people can’t have their self- determination with the U.S. troops there on the peninsula.”
The June 15 MAWO peace rally will be held outside the Vancouver Art Gallery starting at 5 p.m.