Korean Penin­sula:

The US looks likely to reach a com­pro­mise with North Korea – if both par­ties can build trust

NewsChina - - POLITICS - By Li Jing

Peace on the Hori­zon

“It's a very nice day that prom­ises a good fu­ture for both coun­tries,” said a smil­ing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as he sat down for a meal with US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo at a wel­come lun­cheon in Py­ongyang on Oc­to­ber 7, 2018.

From Oc­to­ber 5 to 8, Pom­peo vis­ited Ja­pan, North Korea, South Korea and China. Be­fore the lun­cheon, Pom­peo went so far as to put his arm around Kim's shoul­der. It was the fourth time the US sec­re­tary of state vis­ited Py­ongyang this year. The pre­vi­ous time – af­ter the Trump-kim meet­ing in Sin­ga­pore – he failed to even se­cure a meet­ing with the North Korean leader.

“We had a great, great visit this morn­ing,” Pom­peo re­sponded. “Pres­i­dent Trump sends his re­gards. And we had a very suc­cess­ful morn­ing, so thank you.” Ac­cord­ing to US State De­part­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert, the two dis­cussed a time and place for the next sum­mit be­tween their na­tion's lead­ers, and said that North Korea would al­low in­ter­na­tional nu­clear in­spec­tors to en­ter the dis­man­tled Pung­gye-ri nu­clear test site to en­sure it will never be used again.

“Had a good trip to Py­ongyang to meet with Chair­man Kim. We con­tinue to make progress on agree­ments made at Sin­ga­pore Sum­mit,” Pom­peo later posted on his Twit­ter ac­count.

Paving the Road

De­spite the Sin­ga­pore Sum­mit in June 2018 and the re­lease of a joint state­ment, the two na­tions have to date failed to re­solve their dis­putes over the out­come of the his­toric talk.

The US in­sisted that North Korea dis­man­tle its nu­clear pro­grams be­fore any fur­ther talks can be held but North Korea's stance is that de­nu­cle­ariza­tion mea­sures and con­ces­sions will be matched “ac­tion for ac­tion.” The ne­go­ti­a­tions reached a dead­lock. Pom­peo orig­i­nally planned to visit North Korea in late Au­gust 2018, but can­celed the trip be­cause Trump was dis­sat­is­fied with the progress of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

One month later, how­ever, Trump an­nounced dur­ing the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly on Septem­ber 24 that he was likely to meet Kim Jong-un for a sec­ond time soon and that Pom­peo would ar­range the talks. Sev­eral days later, Trump made an odd rev­e­la­tion at a do­mes­tic rally that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “fell in love” be­cause of Kim's “beau­ti­ful let­ters.”

On Septem­ber 26, Pom­peo held talks with North Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Ri Yong-ho in New York where he was at­tend­ing the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly. Ac­cord­ing to the US State De­part­ment, it was then that Pom­peo ac­cepted Kim's in­vi­ta­tion to visit North Korea.

On Oc­to­ber 2, US State De­part­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert said dur­ing a rou­tine press con­fer­ence that Pom­peo would visit North Korea for the fourth time within a year, which re­flected the mo­men­tum of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, as well as US de­ter­mi­na­tion to turn the con­sen­sus reached by lead­ers of

the two sides into con­crete ac­tion.

Dou­glas H. Paal, vice pres­i­dent for stud­ies at the Carnegie En­dow­ment for In­ter­na­tional Peace, told Newschina that the Amer­i­can peo­ple be­lieve ten­sions are cool­ing down on the Korean Penin­sula, mak­ing Trump feel that his per­sonal po­lit­i­cal en­deav­ors are widely sup­ported and have yielded fruitful po­lit­i­cal re­sults.

Trump's pub­lic dis­cus­sion of Kim's let­ters and the forth­com­ing sec­ond Us-north Korea lead­ers' meet­ing, he added, show the US is con­sid­er­ing reach­ing a com­pro­mise with North Korea on the ba­sis of the Py­ongyang Joint Dec­la­ra­tion – pub­li­ca­tion of an end of war state­ment in ex­change for North Korea's pledge to dis­man­tle its nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties at Yong­byon, the na­tion's ma­jor nu­clear fa­cil­ity.

New Or­der

On Septem­ber 19, Kim Jong-un held his third talk with South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in, who vis­ited Py­ongyang for the first time. The two coun­tries inked the Py­ongyang Joint Dec­la­ra­tion and reached agree­ments on the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula, strength­en­ing mu­tual com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­op­er­a­tion, and striv­ing to bring per­ma­nent peace to the area.

North Korea pledged that if the US takes mea­sures as per the joint state­ment re­leased af­ter the Sin­ga­pore Sum­mit, North Korea will take ac­tion to per­ma­nently dis­able its nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties at Yong­byon. It also de­cided to per­ma­nently dis­man­tle Tongchang-ri mis­sile launch pad and the en­gine test site. Ac­cord­ing to the Blue House press sec­re­tary Yoon Young-chan, the Py­ongyang Joint Dec­la­ra­tion ac­tu­ally marked the end of the Korean War.

When de­liv­er­ing a key­note speech dur­ing the 73rd UN Gen­eral Assem­bly on Septem­ber 26, Moon Jae-in men­tioned the name Kim Jong-un eight times, say­ing that it was time for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to re­ward the choice and en­deavor made by North Korea.

In the opin­ion of Dou­glas H. Paal, South Korea has made a great con­tri­bu­tion to the dy­namic in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the US and North Korea.

Paal ar­gues Moon Jae-in has stressed the im­por­tance of es­tab­lish­ing mu­tual trust be­tween the US and North Korea. Af­ter the US and North Korea lead­ers' meet­ing, ne­go­ti­a­tions over the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula once again came to a stand­still which forced mem­bers of both gov­ern­ments to re­think their com­mu­ni­ca­tion tac­tics. Since the Pyeongchang Win­ter Olympics, North Korea has not launched any nu­clear tests and the penin­sula sit­u­a­tion has eased. It is gen­er­ally rec­og­nized that Moon Jae-in has played a very ac­tive role.

On the other hand, skep­ti­cism to­ward Moon Jae-in's ac­tions also abounds, with some wor­ry­ing the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is likely to fall prey to a North Korean push to ac­cept its nu­clear sta­tus.

Dur­ing a UN gen­eral de­bate on Septem­ber 29, North Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Ri Yongho ar­gued that the North Korean leader has firm con­fi­dence in the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion process, which will be suc­cess­ful as long as the US shows enough sin­cer­ity to win the trust of North Korea. With­out trust, he added, North Korea could not be con­fi­dent in its na­tional se­cu­rity. Un­der such cir­cum­stances, North Korea would never de­mil­i­ta­rize uni­lat­er­ally.

Af­ter Pom­peo's visit to North Korea, he ar­rived in Seoul on Oc­to­ber 7 to meet and in­form Moon of his ac­tiv­i­ties in Py­ongyang. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Yon­hap News Agency, Moon said it was an im­por­tant day for the three coun­tries. The next day, Moon dis­closed that Kim Jong-un would visit Rus­sia, and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping was ex­pected to visit North Korea, which was also ex­pected to hold lead­ers' talks with Ja­pan.

Yon­hap com­mented that a new or­der is tak­ing shape on the Penin­sula. South Korea's Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­istry spokesper­son re­vealed on the same day that in or­der to im­ple­ment the Py­ongyang Joint Dec­la­ra­tion, the North and South are con­sid­er­ing hold­ing high-level bi­lat­eral meet­ings.

Joint Goal

As the last stop on his four-na­tion tour, Pom­peo ar­rived in Bei­jing on Oc­to­ber 8. An­a­lysts said the main goal of his visit to China was to win sup­port from the na­tion to put pres­sure on Py­ongyang and com­mu­ni­cate about Sino-us re­la­tions amid the in­ten­si­fy­ing trade con­flict and im­passe.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence have pub­licly crit­i­cized China for at­tempt­ing to “in­ter­fere in the in­ter­nal af­fairs of the US.” Mean­while, the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced it had ap­proved US$330 mil­lion in arms sales to Tai­wan.

Da Wei, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions in Bei­jing, told Newschina that even though dis­agree­ments and prob­lems per­sist in Sino-us re­la­tions, the two coun­tries have reached a con­sen­sus in re­solv­ing the North's nu­clear is­sue and eas­ing ten­sion on the Korean Penin­sula.

“Con­cern­ing the nu­clear is­sue, the US and North Korea are un­doubt­edly the most cru­cial play­ers, but the co­op­er­a­tion and in­volve­ment of var­i­ous par­ties is needed. China and South Korea are the main hands push­ing to­ward the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the re­gion, and the US is in­ca­pable of meet­ing the de­mands of North Korea alone,” he said. “The US also needs other coun­tries to sup­port UN sanc­tions on North Korea and con­tinue to put pres­sure on it.”

On Oc­to­ber 5, Pom­peo said pub­licly that though China and the US have dis­agree­ments, China has been sup­port­ing US ef­forts to talk with North Korea, adding that if a peace treaty is signed to end the war, China will be part of it.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi said af­ter meet­ing Pom­peo in Bei­jing that China will sup­port di­rect talks be­tween the US and North Korea and is will­ing to play a unique and cru­cial role on the ba­sis of mu­tual re­spect and cater­ing to each other's in­ter­ests.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wel­comes US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo in Py­ongyang on Oc­to­ber 7, 2018

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