DMZ meeting helps break US-NK deadlock

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/30 21:33:39

Photo: VCG

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump met on Sunday at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean Peninsula. The unique and unexpected meeting seemed like a decision that Trump made on a whim. Whether it was an impromptu decision or an elaborate arrangement, this Kim-Trump meeting will help break the impasse between Washington and Pyongyang.

Trump is forthright. He is keen on and good at seeking attention and causing a sensation. Such methods applied to promoting peace and stability can produce great results and make certain breakthroughs.

After the Hanoi meeting failed in February 2019, North Korea and the US were deadlocked; Trump faced tremendous pressure if a third Kim-Trump meeting was to be held. However, all the opponents were caught off guard by Trump's unscheduled greeting and meeting with Kim at the DMZ. This meeting seems symbolic, but it has broken the stalemate between the two sides and driven the resumption of dialogue. It is in fact another micro turning point in bilateral ties.

Trump is a master of building interpersonal relationships. It is a miracle that he was able to make a personal connection with Kim in the context of the serious North Korea-US confrontations. It acted to stabilize the situation and de-escalate the crisis.

Nonetheless, the leaders' personal friendship can never replace the countries' national interests, as its role in resolving major political differences is only limited. North Korea is now implementing a new strategy and actively promoting domestic economic development. Hence, easing international sanctions is much needed. 

It would be a gift if Trump were to have relaxed some sanctions. But he did not. Washington hopes to see more commitments from Pyongyang toward denuclearization. The serious divisions between the two are obviously more substantive than the leaders' personal relationship.

Due to high complexity, the Korean Peninsula issue is extremely hard to settle, thus, the US needs a stable peninsula policy. In the long run, it is not necessarily a blessing to tie this issue  too tightly to the president's personality.

In the two and a half years since Trump took office, the situation on the peninsula has gone from one of fierce confrontations to relatively stable, which is significant progress. Both leaders of the US and North Korea have contributed to this. If the peninsula situation can keep moving forward on the basis of existing achievements, regardless of the speed, no retrograde steps can be taken. The international community is eager to see such a phased summary and consolidation.

Trump should consolidate this progress on the peninsula in which he participated. This should form a new basis on which to make headway in the region. There should be renewed focus from the US side on prioritizing easing conditions on the peninsula instead of letting uncertainty shroud the endeavor, which puts all the efforts at risk. If even peace on the peninsula can be traded, then what Trump has done in the region will be an unsettled question.

The Kim-Trump meeting has again caught the attention of media worldwide. The meeting provides possibilities for North Korea and the US to find solutions. The US elite should be less hostile against North Korea, view the country more objectively and change their stereotypes. The Trump administration can contribute to this if it is willing to. It will be crucial for how the history evaluates Trump's contribution to resolving the peninsula nuclear issue.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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