Expectations that a face-to-face meeting between United States President Donald Trump and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea leader Kim Jong-un will put an abrupt end to the impasse on the Korean Peninsula will likely prove premature. But it is a necessary step in the required direction.
Trump has received criticism at home for accepting Kim’s invitation, which is to be expected. But he deserves praise for giving it a go. At least it is better than him trading insults with Kim. And he is certainly upbeat, and confident he can accomplish what was impossible for past US administrations. There is good reason for him to feel that way, since US-DPRK relations have deteriorated to such a degree that any slight thaw in relations between the two is welcome.
Especially since Pyongyang saw the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as an opportunity to warm relations with Seoul and the two have rapidly melted the long-standing chill on the Korean Peninsula.
Yet even if the meeting between Trump and Kim does go ahead, what happens next will probably be protracted haggling. After all, Pyongyang will not give up its nuclear weapons for nothing. Kim is likely to raise Pyongyang’s desire for a peace treaty, along with establishing diplomatic relations, while Washington will not recognize the long hostile regime in Pyongyang without denuclearization.
But that is precisely what Beijing, whose active support and contribution to fostering the talks was praised by Republic of Korea national security director Chung Eui-yong who is visiting China to brief Beijing on the recent inter-Korean talks, has persistently urged both Pyongyang and Washington to discuss directly.
No wonder it sees the latest development as being “in the right direction”, and as President Xi Jinping told Chung on Monday, it will continue to facilitate such engagement.
Xi urged all parties to be patient and use their political wisdom to address and resolve their problems.
Certainly the anxiety and discord that had previously found expression in the rancorous exchanges of outrage and insults between Trump and Kim need to be put on the back burner if any positive outcome is to materialize from a meeting between the two leaders.
Since all stakeholders say they seek a political solution to the longstanding security threat, this is a precious opportunity that should not be wasted.
(This article originally appeared in the China Daily Newspaper)