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Diplomacy

Experts weigh in on collapse of talks

Experts in South Korea and beyond offer their take on the breakdown of negotiations.


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Updated: March 1, 2019

United States President Donald Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed on Thursday (Feb 28) without an agreement between the two leaders, plunging future talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme into question.

“Sometimes, you have to walk,” Mr Trump said at a news conference in Hanoi after negotiations ended early, though he also said that “we had a really, I think, productive time”.

“It was about the sanctions. Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that,” Mr Trump said.

OUTRIGHT FAILURE

“1. Summit is an outright failure. 2. But Trump made the right decision to push for more than minimal steps and take no deal over a bad deal. 3. However, not clear where it goes from here when leaders can’t agree. 4. No summit for a while.” – Dr Victor Cha, Korea chair at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, on Twitter.

‘SHORT-LIVED’ LOVE AFFAIR

“This may be the end of a ‘short-lived’ love affair between Trump and Kim. Despite Trump’s vowing that there may be more meetings in the future, in reality it will be very difficult for Trump to arrange another experimental summit meeting, due to mounting domestic opposition as well as his weakening political standing at home. He may not be able to muster extra political energy and time to pay attention to North Korea as he is mired with scandals and as he faces elections soon.” – Dr Lee Seong-hyon from the Sejong Institute think-tank in South Korea, in comments to The Straits Times.

TWO TEMPERAMENTAL MEN

“It is little wonder these negotiations broke down after Trump has spent more time in office blowing up nuclear treaties than building them. The failure of these talks is further evidence that denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula cannot be left with these two temperamental men. We need a real plan rooted in the international community and treaties like the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which the Koreas could join tomorrow and begin the disarmament process with legitimacy.” – Mr Akira Kawasaki, a member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), in comments to ST.

DIPLOMACY TAKES TIME

“It’s unfortunate that the Hanoi Summit did not lead to an agreement; however, failure to reach an agreement should not be taken as a sign that diplomacy is not working. Diplomacy has done far more to advance the security of the US and the Korean peninsula than economic coercion and threats of military force. Diplomacy takes time and obviously much more work remains to be done. Members of (the US) Congress can help guide the process in a more productive direction moving forward by supporting Representative Ro Khanna’s new legislation calling for the signing of a peace agreement and other important steps to advance the goals of peace and a denuclearised Korean peninsula.” – Mr Kevin Martin, president of Peace Action and coordinator of the Korea Peace Network.



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About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

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