The world will be closely watching the scheduled summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Supremo Kim Jong Un to be held in Singapore on Tuesday, June 12. The venue, Sentosa Island, is known for beautiful beaches, casinos and best golf courses. It will be the first ever meeting between a sitting US President and a President of Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (North Korea). Hence, it will be historic. Till couple of months ago, nobody would have thought that such kind of meeting between Trump and Kim was possible.
Till last year, the two leaders were openly threatening each other with possible nuclear war. North Korea had threatened to use nuclear weapons to ‘sink’ Japan and reduce the US to ‘ashes and darkness’ for supporting a UNSC resolution on sanctions.
The meeting is significant for South Koreans as well. Denuclearised Korean peninsula cannot become a reality unless US amends its attitude towards North Korea. Recently, Kim twice met South Korean President Moon Jae-in and they are working on a plan to denuclearise the Korean peninsula. In fact, the last meeting between them was on May 26 at the northern side of Panmunjom in North Korea after US announced revival of the summit. The two leaders agreed to ‘positively co-operate with each other to improve (North Korea) – US relations and establish a mechanism for permanent and durable peace.’ Both Korean leaders decided to meet urgently after Trump had called off the talks on May 24 abruptly citing ‘open hostility’ from Pyongyang (capital of North Korea). But, finally US decided to go ahead with the summit following a flurry of contacts with North Korea, including Trump hosting a senior North Korean delegation at the White House.
There are high expectations from the summit. But, it will be too much to expect any miracle from the first meeting between the two leaders. High expectations, many times, also brings disappointments. They should grab this opportunity to understand each other and move cautiously. Shockingly, a former New York mayor Rudy Guiliani has boasted that after the cancellation of the summit, ”Kim Jong Un got back on his hands and knees and begged for it.” One should not make such kind of undiplomatic statements before an important summit. The positive thing is North Korea preferred not to react to Guiliani’s statement.
Donald Trump is briefed daily on the North Korean scenario. The summit is expected to focus on US efforts to get Kim to abandon his nuclear programme. The US has demanded North Korea embark on full and verifiable denuclearisation before US makes any concessions. It will not be easy for Kim to decide on the issue. Kim, in all likelihood, will reject such US attitude. He will not commit full denuclearisation till US assures him of easing sanctions and on the security of North Korea. Kim may agree to abandon some of the nuclear weapons or programme if US readies to drop its hostile attitude towards North Korea. The summit should be seen as a beginning of dialogue between two leaders and two nations. If everything goes well, then also it will take couple of years for North Korea to dismantle its full nuclear programme. The positive thing is the dialogue, which was absent between the two countries so far, will begin. The dialogue must go on.
The focus of the meeting, in all likelihood, will be of denuclearisation of Korean peninsula. In fact, leaders of both Korea have decided to move towards nuclear arms-free Korean peninsula. They have also made plans for the reunion of families divided by Korean War of 1950-53.
Kim has also visited China twice and met Chinese President Xi Jinping. As is well known, North Korea has very few friends globally and China is one of them. Japan has also expressed its concern to Trump over North Korea.
The recent initiatives from North Korean leadership also prompted India to give importance to North Korea. Minister for State for External Affairs VK Singh visited North Korea last month and met Vice-president Kim Yong Dae. They discussed “a range of issues covering political, regional, economic, educational and cultural co-operation between the two countries”. India has also sent a senior IFS officer, Atul Gotsurve, to Pyongyanj.
Only dialogue can bring peace in the Korean peninsula and for that US needs to be accommodative.