US OFFICIALS AIM TO ADD SUBSTANCE TO ‘DENUCLEARISATION’ EFFORT IN SINGAPORE
AN UNPRECEDENTED summit between the US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un here today was expected to produce a breakthrough, reflecting Washington’s firm stance to secure denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
“President Trump expected Chairman Kim would use this opportunity to change the trajectory of the relationship [with the US] and bring peace and prosperity to his country, said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a press briefing yesterday.
While reclusive North Korean leader Kim took time out yesterday in the city-state to prepare for the summit and made no public appearances, Trump had a working lunch with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana Presidential Palace.
At the lunch Trump was seen in a good mood as his Singapore host surprised him with a birthday cake, two days before his June 14 birthday.
“We’ve got a very interesting meeting, in particular tomorrow [Tuesday], and I just think it’s going to work out very nicely,” Trump told PM Lee during their talks over lunch, according to a pool report.
Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan posted a picture of Trump with his birthday cake to his Facebook page.
Singaporean leaders stuck to their roles in hosting and facilitating the unprecedented summit, without intervening in the essence of the talks.
Trump thanked Lee for hosting the summit, expressed the continued US commitment to engage in the region and offered his support for Singapore’s chairing of Asean, the Singapore Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday after the working lunch.
In the meantime, senior US and North Korean officials had a long and serious meeting to prepare talking points to add meaningful substance to the vague denuclearisation promises of their leaders. The result of their three-hour discussion in a Singapore hotel remained unknown.
While Kim Jong-un has publicly said that Pyongyang would commit to denuclearisation, and repeated the same to Pompeo in a recent meeting, Washington sought a commitment for the regime to quickly carry out complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear programme – known in diplomatic terms as CVID.
But CVID is a relatively new concept for Pyongyang and analysts earlier said that implementation of denuclearisation required hard negotiation, as that would require the regime to change its security strategy from relying on its nuclear power as a deterrence to instead having good relations and building trust with the US.
Kim might not want to give up the North’s nuclear programme, said senior fellow at the East-West Centre’s research programme, Denney Roy, in an earlier interview with The Nation. Kim might be meeting with Trump in the hope of achieving his more urgent needs – alleviating the threat of a US preventative military strike and getting at least some of the extensive economic sanctions lifted, said Roy.
While Washington could offer economic assistance to aid in the change related to CVID, the US would not want to ease up on the pressures and sanctions that appear to have helped bring Kim to the table, according to a Crisis Group report entitled “Deep Freeze and Beyond: Making the Trump-Kim Summit a Success” released yesterday.
Pompeo told the press briefing that the US would offer “unique” security guarantees if Pyongyang took the CVID. “We will take actions to provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearisation is not something that ends badly for them,” he said. “Just the opposite – that it leads to a brighter and better future for the North Korean people.”
Singaporeans got excited yesterday as their country prepared to host the historic meeting. “Yes, why not, it’s very exciting, all over the world eyes are on Singapore now as two public enemies of the world are in town,” said a taxi driver when asked about his feelings about the summit. “I can’t believe it’s happening in Singapore,” he added.
The hosts allocated $20 million (Bt480 million) to hold the summit, which has given the city-state high-profile publicity. Some 2,500 journalists have registered to cover the event, although the chance of getting access to summit leaders is very slim. Key events are being reported on using a “media pooling” approach.
The authorities stepped up security control for the entire city, most notably Sentosa Island where meeting-venue the Capella hotel is located.
by Supalak Ganjanakhundee, The Nation(Thailand)
June 12, 2018