Kim’s speech of­fers hope penin­sula progress won’t stall

China Daily (USA) - - COMMENT -

Ed­i­tor’s note: In his New Year speech, Kim Jong-un, top leader of the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea, stressed Py­ongyang’s de­ter­mi­na­tion for a de­nu­cle­arized penin­sula — the DPRK will not make or test nu­clear weapons — and that he is ready for a sec­ond meet­ing with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump any­time. Bei­jing News com­ments on Wed­nes­day:

It is good to see that Trump echoed Kim’s sen­ti­ment say­ing on Twit­ter that he looks for­ward to meet­ing with Kim.

Look­ing back just one year re­veals how far the sit­u­a­tion has im­proved. In his New Year speech last year, Kim warned Wash­ing­ton that the nu­clear but­ton is on his desk, and Trump re­sponded tit-for-tat say­ing that the US’ nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties were big­ger and stronger.

Nowa­days, Py­ongyang has di­verted its at­ten­tion to the eco­nomic con­struc­tion of the coun­try, which Kim also re­it­er­ated in his speech in a can­did way. It is clear that as long as its se­cu­rity con­cerns are ad­dressed, the DPRK has no rea­sons to re­sort to nu­clear weapons for self-de­fense.

That Py­ongyang has taken the ini­tia­tive to re­solve the pris­on­ers’ dilemma on the penin­sula de­serves Wash­ing­ton’s re­cip­ro­cal re­sponse. Hope­fully, a widely an­tic­i­pated sec­ond meet­ing of the two lead­ers, if it hap­pens, will fur­ther ease the dead­lock, as the DPRK still suf­fers from sanc­tions aimed at end­ing its nu­clear weapons tests and the US still main­tains the threat from the strong mil­i­tary forces it has de­ployed in the Repub­lic of Korea.

Re­mov­ing th­ese ob­sta­cles would en­able the sit­u­a­tion to con­tinue to im­prove.

De­spite the un­cer­tain­ties, it is cer­tain that Kim will demon­strate more self con­fi­dence and com­po­sure in his deal­ings with the world this year, not only be­cause of what Py­ongyang has done over the past year, but also be­cause of his pro­duc­tive in­ter­ac­tion with lead­ers of the Repub­lic of Korea and China, which helped con­sol­i­date a re­gional con­sen­sus for de­nu­cle­ariza­tion and peace, and deep­ened mu­tual trust.

This year will bring about his­tor­i­cal op­por­tu­ni­ties for a de­nu­cle­arized penin­sula if all rel­e­vant par­ties can ad­vance the good mo­men­tum achieved last year, and con­stantly deepen mu­tual trust through con­struc­tive di­a­logue. This is in line with the in­ter­ests of all par­ties.

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