After the striking political theater that unfolded Friday at the forbidding border between North and South Korea, it seems almost mean-spirited to cast aspersions on Kim Jong-un’s motives or to be apprehensive about talks Mr. Kim is expected to have in a few weeks with President Trump.
These contacts, after all, stand in stark contrast to the scary talk of nuclear exchanges of only a few months ago, and meeting face-to-face seems better than saber rattling.
Mr. Kim’s meeting with the dovish South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, was heady stuff, minutely choreographed to stir the hopes and longings of a nation bitterly divided for 70 years. Every scene was suffused with symbolism: the joint steps across the concrete slab that marks the border, which no member of the Kim dynasty had ever breached before; the banter and the hand-holding; the soil heaped on a tree planted when the Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953; the honour guard in 19th-century imperial robes.
The “Panmunjom Declaration” signed by the two leaders was similarly upbeat, promising to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons and to finally negotiate a peace treaty.
Even President Trump was caught up in the euphoria. “KOREAN WAR TO END!” he exultantly tweeted. “The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!”
Yes, Mr. Kim is still a murderous ruler of a brutally isolated state who will do anything to retain absolute control, and most experts suspect that, in the end, nothing will change since he will not surrender a lever his family spent years and millions of dollars developing.
The denuclearization he has in mind is “progressive and synchronous,” which seems to mean it will move forward in partial steps, in exchange for economic benefits and security guarantees, and that the United States would withdraw its nuclear umbrella from South Korea. Those would be major challenges to deal with in negotiations and not at all what the Trump Administration has in mind.
At the same time, Mr. Kim is evidently serious about trying to raise the living standards of his impoverished country and is prepared to use his nuclear weapons as barter to lift onerous economic sanctions and obtain American assurances that would allow his regime to continue.
Not long before, he was brought in as the new National Security Advisor, John Bolton, told an interviewer that a Trump-Kim Summit Meeting would inevitably fail, which, he said, would clear the way to the next phase — presumably a pre-emptive strike.
That in itself is reason to hope that new opening in the long-running confrontation of North and South Korea so dramatically staged at Panmunjom does confound expectations and lead to real and fruitful negotiations, not just between the two Koreas but also between the United States and North Korea. The success of that meeting puts pressure on Mr. Trump to continue the momentum toward peace by patiently pursuing serious negotiations with North Korea, not making unilateral demands and issuing threats. It’s a long shot, but even if talks just keep two impetuous and unpredictable men like Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump away from their nuclear buttons, the world is better off.
To think that the Koreas were one country ruled by Japan. The Second World War changed that. North Korea went to Russia and the Americans kept South Korea. North Korea invaded the South and almost pushed them into the sea. China prevented the injection of the United Nations troops. In the end, peace prevailed three years after the outbreak in 1950.
by Kaieteur News (Guyana)
May 01, 2018