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Analysis, Diplomacy

North Korea roundup

The on-again, off-again summit breaths new life, here is a roundup of reactions and related stories.


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Updated: May 28, 2018

The US-North Korean summit was all but dead and finished after Trump sent an open letter to Kim Jong-un on Thursday calling off the talks. Commentators, however, noted the conciliatory tone of the letter and said a small chance existed that talks could be revisited at a later stage.

It is doubtful that anyone anticipated that the summit would be revived this fast.

A major catalyst to the resurrection of the talks was the meeting between  Kim and  South Korean President Moon Jae-in over the weekend.

After their meeting, Moon said that Kim had reaffirmed his willingness to denuclearize and hold a summit with US President Donald Trump.

“Chairman Kim Jong-un has once again clearly expressed his commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula following his pledge in the Panmunjom Declaration and expressed his willingness to end the history of war and confrontation through the success of the North Korea-US summit,” Moon said of his latest summit with the North Korean leader held Saturday.

“We two leaders agreed the June 12 North Korea-US summit must be successfully held,” he told a nationally televised press conference

“Following up from the Panmunjeom Declaration, Chairman Kim again stated his will for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Moon added.

It seems that during the summit, the two leaders also discussed the possibility of a permanent peace treaty to replace the armistice signed after the end of the Second World War.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a South Korea government official told reporters that the two Koreas agree on the importance of such issues in relation to the US-North Korea summit and they are being discussed at the working level.

“Working-level discussions on issues such as again promising mutual nonaggression (between Pyongyang and Washington), and opening negotiations to replace the armistice with a peace treaty or a declaration of the end of war among South, North and the US are underway,” the official said.

High Level US Visit 

Following the Kim-Moon talks, a senior US State Department official travelled to the North to discuss the planned Trump-Kim summit.

The State Department’s top Korea expert, former US Ambassador Sung Kim, is meeting with North Korean officials to prepare for an unprecedented summit between Pyongyang and Washington expected to take place in Singapore on June 12, according to the US government.

His team, also involving Allison Hooker, a White House official on Korea, is visiting the North, reportedly focusing on discussing summit agenda items, especially denuclearization.

Meanwhile, other Trump aides, including Joe Hagin, White House deputy chief of staff for operations, are travelling to Singapore for consultations with North Koreans largely on security measures and logistics related to the Singapore summit originally slated for June 12 and later cancelled.

Reactions and Comments 

US President Donald Trump said Sunday that he believes North Korea will be a great economic nation one day, setting a positive tone ahead of his potential meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The US president has increasingly offered economic rewards in exchange for denuclearization, although the exact terms of any deal are unclear.

However, Pyongyang says it does not expect any economic aid from the United States. The ruling Workers’ Party’s official newspaper Rodong Sinmun commented that Fox News TV, CBS and CNN were “as impudent as to make rubbish that if the DPRK meets the requirements of the US, it can get ‘large-scale non-governmental economic aid.'”

“US media is still building up public opinion that the DPRK comes to the negotiating table with the US in a hope to get ‘economic aid,'” the report said using the initial of the North’s full name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “We can not but make the fact clear. It is the US that asked for DPRK-US talks first,” the North claimed.

“As far as the ‘economic aid’ … is concerned, the DPRK has never expected it.”

China, meanwhile, expressed its support for a planned summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, stressing that direct dialogue between the leaders is the key to solving the nuclear standoff.

“We think a person-to-person encounter and dialogue between the leaders of North Korea and the US is the key to solving problems,” Lu Kang, spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry, said in a written response to Yonhap News Agency’s questions.

“We hope both the North and the US show patience and good faith to focus on resolving concerns and carry out the process to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula,” the spokesman noted.

Lingering Doubts 

Not all have been convinced by this positive turn of events.

The Japanese paper (and ANN partner) Yomiuri Shimbun expressed in an editorial that, “North Korea’s denuclearization can never be expected if Pyongyang’s provocative remarks and broken promises are quietly condoned.”

“It is worrying that there is a strong impression that Trump made decisions without due deliberations on both occasions — when he accepted in March a North Korean offer to hold a summit with Kim and when he called off the summit recently. It is obvious that it will take a certain amount of time to dissolve long years of distrust between Washington and Pyongyang,” the editorial writes.

Meanwhile, Victor Cha, former Asia director on the White House National Security Council, tamped down expectations that a June 12 meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could lead to a breakthrough in the nuclear conundrum.

“In terms of the substance, the key issue is, are they going to give up their nuclear weapons? And I think, unfortunately, the answer is no,” he said in an interview with NBC. “I mean, 56 years ago the North Koreans started landscaping the area where they built this nuclear program. And on Dec. 12 of last year, they said we’ve accomplished what we wanted. So three months later they’re all of a sudden going to give it all up? It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”



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About the Author: ANN’s current Chairman is Mr Warren Fernandez, who is also Editor-in-Chief of The Straits Times, Singapore. He is the current President of the World Editors Forum.

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