Olympics

Manila Times - - OPINION - IG­NATIUS (C) 2018, WASHINGTON POST WRIT­ERS GROUP

rect U.S.-North Korean talks. A se­nior State to-face talks will start be­fore the Olympics end; the U.S. will char­ac­ter­ize the goal as even­tual de-nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula. The North may of­fer a dif­fer­ent for­mula, but Washington prob­a­bly won’t care so long as the other side shows up. There’s no sign yet that it will, how­ever.

that the con­ver­sa­tion with Py­ongyang can “start at the edges,” with each coun­try de­scrib­ing how it sees the fu­ture, and then “work to­ward the cen­ter,” mean­ing de­nu­cle­ariza­tion. “The Olympics them­selves might be the perime­ter” from which talks

Trump ar­gues that his nu­clear brinkman­ship over the past year has worked. “Does any­body re­ally be­lieve that talks and di­a­logue would be go­ing on be­tween North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t to­tal ‘might’ against the North,” he tweeted and Moon this week wisely lauded his “huge con­tri­bu­tion” to peace talks.

Who has blinked here? It’s hard to ar­gue that it’s Kim. The mu­tual stand-down for the Olympics looks very much like the “freeze for freeze” ap­proach that Rus­sia and China were rec­om­mend­ing last year, al­though U.S.

For all Trump’s blus­ter and self-con­grat­u­la­tion, the past month’s diplo­macy re­ally has been a Korean show, with Kim and Moon both show­ing con­sid­er­able nu­clear club, but he was also def­er­en­tial to­ward Seoul. Moon re­sponded avidly, but he also kept faith with Washington by stress­ing that diplo­macy must even­tu­ally en­com­pass de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.

What the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion can take credit for is build­ing a ro­bust in­ter­na­tional coali­tion around the de­mand that North Korea must even­tu­ally give up its nu­clear weapons. Rus­sia and China have joined in a se­ries of U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions sanc­tion­ing North Korea, and this slow squeeze is be­gin­ning to hurt. Diplo­mats re­port the be­gin­nings of food short­ages in North Korea, and China is send­ing some North Korean work­ers back home.

Tiller­son will meet in Canada next week with diplo­mats from coun­tries that sent years ago. That gath­er­ing is meant to sig­nal global sol­i­dar­ity and re­solve. But it will also high­light the fail­ure of the U.S.-led coali­tion, so far, to stop North Korea from be­com­ing a de-facto nu­clear power.

A pause for the Olympics, and then, alas, the cri­sis re­sumes.

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