Tue, Jun 12, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Singapore summit: who gets what

By Parris Chang 張旭成

Much to Trump’s pleasure, Moon said Trump deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

While Trump is on an earnest quest for a peace deal and to find a solution to North Korea’s nuclear weapons, Kim Jong-un, who used to exchange insults and threats of nuclear annihilation with Trump, has in the past few months redefined and projected an entirely new image of himself on the international stage.

His surprise two-day visit to Beijing and consultations with Xi were a forceful manifestation of the young leader’s diplomatic acumen. He appeared poised, confident and ready to take part in the game of international balance of power, and play China against the US in the crisis over his nation’s nuclear arsenal.

Likewise, the inter-Korean summit was a huge public relations success for Kim, even though it primarily rehashed old inter-Korean agreements that have never been honored, and published a vaguely worded commitment to denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The masses liked the images projected on the TV screen, especially the pictures showing the two leaders crossing the border hand in hand and walking through the woods.

According to a survey conducted the next day by the Korean Research Center, Kim Jong-un, a formerly vilified tyrant and the most dangerous leader in the region, was now considered “trustworthy” by 77 percent of respondents.

However, most experts in South Korea were skeptical. They see in Kim Jong-un a cunning strategist who is skillful in deception, and his diplomatic outreach was designed to cast off his pariah status and soften international sanctions on North Korea.

They do not believe that he will give up North Korea’s nuclear weapons any time soon.

Questions remain on the outcome of the meeting in Singapore, such as: What would a deal on North Korea’s denuclearization look like?

Trump has called for North Korea’s near-term “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” in exchange for a treaty to end the Korean War, the establishment of US diplomatic ties with the North, US assurances for Kim Jong-un’s continued rule and the security of his regime and US aid for the North’s economic development.

On the other hand, Kim Jong-un demands a formula of staged and synchronized measures and steps to move toward denuclearization, which could take many years.

In this scenario, there are many stages and phases, and one move — or concession — by North Korea must be matched by a “reward” by the US, and all of the steps, timelines and “rewards” need to be worked out in great detail through give-and-take.

Trump has told the media that the summit is “much more than a photo-opportunity” and not a “one-meeting deal.”

He appears to have realized that US-North Korea negotiations will be hard and long, saying that the talks would start a process to bring about a resolution to the nuclear issue, and might take “one, two or three days, depending on what happens.”

Nonetheless, he predicted “a terrific success or a modified success,” without spelling out the outcome.

Trump’s summit with Kim Jong-un is historic, but its outcome might not be decisive, as much remains to be settled. A brave, unconventional and intelligent leader such as Trump, willing and able to deal with the issue of dismantling the North Korean nuclear weapons that his predecessors would not, deserves to be applauded.

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