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Summit 2.0

Even though there was little progress in achieving the goals set in the historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea in June 2018, the announcement of a second summit next month is a step in the right direction. The fact that Pyongyang has ceased its nuclear muscle-flexing, and has not tested any nuclear- capable device or launched any missile for more than a year, is reason for continued patience and confidence in the dialogue. The Singapore meeting generated mutual goodwill and hopes of a breakthrough. But in the declaration the leaders had promised a denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula without indicating a timetable or the modalities of reaching that far-sighted end- goal. In the months since the meeting, Pyongyang’s anticipation of an easing of U.S. sanctions have not materialised, while information about the inventory of North Korean nuclear stockpiles that Washington had sought as a first step towards a verifiable dismantling of the North Korean arsenal, has not been forthcoming. Underscoring the stalemate, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stated days before the announcement of the coming bilateral summit that Pyongyang had made little headway on its commitments. Similarly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s persistent efforts since the Singapore meeting have come to nought. The concept of “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula that formed the crux of the Singapore declaration has become a subject of conflicting interpretations. Pyongyang insists that the expression must have a wider meaning and include the U.S. military umbrella that extends across South Korea and Japan. It contends that North Korea will be the first target in the event of a pre-emptive U.S. strike. For nuclear hawks in Washington, the stalemate is at best a case of Mr. Trump’s diplomatic gambit having gone awry and at worst, an impasse that allows Pyongyang to prevaricate and give nothing away. Against this backdrop, the prospects for any meaningful progress appear to hinge on mediation by Beijing and Seoul. Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s President, favours rapprochement with the neighbour, and a lasting resolution of the Washington-Pyongyang nuclear imbroglio, advocating dialogue. After his recent meeting with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Mr. Kim reinforced his pledge to rid the region of nuclear arms and expressed a willingness for another summit with Mr. Trump. But he emphasised Pyongyang’s need for security guarantees, replacing the decades-long armistice with a formal peace treaty to mark the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War. Toning down his rhetoric, President Trump has displayed a readiness to wait and watch. It is not certain if the sober mood will translate into tangible outcomes. But that would be a credible offer that can lure Mr. Kim to reciprocate on the nuclear front.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/summit-20/article26055966.ece

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