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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 26 New Delhi June 16, 2018

Welcome Move in Korean Peninsula

Monday 18 June 2018, by SC


How do we assess the Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un summit talks at Singapore? Regardless of what the cynics have said or written—and there are many such cynics beyond those who have articulated their views within the country and beyond—the reality is different. It is reflected in what The Indian Express has editorially underlined: “Constructing Peace: In Singapore, defying odds and cynicism, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un take a welcome step together”. Elaborating on these words, it avers:

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have little in common except their willingness to take huge political risks. Their readiness to gamble on the first ever summit meeting between the two nations locked in mutual hostility for many decades has been breathtaking. After much confron-tational rhetoric through 2017, that raised widespread concerns about a nuclear war in the Korean Peninsula, the two leaders moved rapidly towards unfreezing the conflict. Those looking for a detailed declaration after the talks between Trump and Kim were disappointed; but the short statement they issued has huge potential to reorder the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula.

The potential emanates from three mutual commitments: one from Kim who announced his “firm and unwavering commitment to denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”; two from Trump who assured to “provide security guarantees” to North Korea; three the US-North Korea joint pledge to build a “lasting and robust peace regime in the Korean Peninsula”.

These three commitments, according to the daily, are interlocking in nature—

that progress on one, for example, on eliminating nuclear weapons, depends on security guarantees and constructing a peaceful order in the Peninsula. This approach is very different from the traditional American nuclear diplomacy. It viewed the problem as bringing a deviant state to negotiations through punishing sanctions and forcing it to perform unilateral nuclear disarmament.

Indeed, Trump has moved away from his idea of exerting “maximum pressure” to a totally different framework based on ”personal trust and thinking political”. Thus while talking to Kim without preconditions Trump not only expressed confidence of working with the North Korean leader as a partner but was also ready to go much further than his predecessors in offering security guarantees to Pyongyang. He thus promised to scale down the US military exercises in the Peninsula and even stated that he could consider bringing back 32,000 US troops in South Korea in future as part of constructing a peace regime. As for Kim, he agreed to recover the remains of American POWs and soldiers missing in action during the Korean War of 1950-53.

No doubt as a first bold step to withdraw from the brink of a nuclear conflagration such actions are essential and that is what the two leaders have done much to the chagrin and annoyance of US acolytes and their accomplices who eventually must not and will not be allowed to have the last word.

June 14 S.C.

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