US, North Korea should create friendly backdrop for summit

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/7 22:38:39

A foreign ministry spokesman of North Korea Sunday rebuked the US in a stern manner rarely seen since the two countries decided to hold a summit. The spokesman said North Korea's intention to denuclearize was not the result of US-led sanctions and pressure, warning the US of "a dangerous attempt to ruin the hard-won atmosphere of dialogue and bring the situation back to square one."

Washington has more than once attributed easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula to US sanctions and indicated that sanctions will stay. Shortly after the inter-Korean summit on April 27, US President Donald Trump vowed to maintain maximum pressure on Pyongyang until it gave up its nuclear weapons.

Some analysts took Trump's pledge and Pyongyang's rebuke as an act to gain more leverage and build up momentum for Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Others observed the gigantic divide of the two sides' positions and became concerned about the outcomes of the Trump-Kim meeting.

If the hard-won détente on the peninsula does return matters to square one after the US-North Korea talks fail, it would be a huge regret for the international community and inflict losses on both countries.

So far Pyongyang has openly vowed to give up nuclear programs and denuclearize the peninsula. North Korea has shown massive concerns and worries about security, hoping denuclearization can take place simultaneously with security guarantees. Pyongyang has announced a shift in focus to the economy.

Washington welcomes Pyongyang's shift in attitude, but suspects it might be a scheme. Washington stresses the need to continue pressuring and sanctioning Pyongyang until the latter abandons nuclear weapons. Washington also insists that denuclearization should be realized immediately.

The Trump-Kim meeting is bound to take place. While Trump said he could pull out if he feels the meeting is "not going to be fruitful," he apparently wants to press Pyongyang more before the summit. If the summit is not held, the White House will suffer an unbearable political loss.

If Trump and Kim can't reach specific outcomes on denuclearization during their meeting, or the US refuses to scrap sanctions or provide security guarantees for North Korea abandoning its nuclear programs, the talks will break down.

Pyongyang has offered to halt nuclear tests and taken steps to assuage tensions in inter-Korean ties. Washington also took a step forward by agreeing to the Trump-Kim meeting. Given the huge divide and mistrust between the US and North Korea, a summit is needed to break the deadlock.

As the US takes the strategic upper hand, naturally North Korea has worries. Washington needs to be more proactive if the two sides want to build trust. The US and North Korea, bracing for the summit, must go forward. Otherwise there will be more political risks for Washington.

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