We should rel­ish Trump’s suc­cess­ful meet­ing with Kim

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - MATT MACKOWIAK Matt Mackowiak is pres­i­dent of Austin, Texas, and Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based Po­tomac Strat­egy Group. He’s a Repub­li­can con­sul­tant, a Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion and Bush-Cheney re-elec­tion cam­paign veteran and for­mer press sec­re­tary to two U.S. sen­ato

This week was a very good week for peace in the Pa­cific. There is no need to over­state what was ac­com­plished.

North Korea’s reclu­sive leader Kim Jong-un trav­eled to Sin­ga­pore to meet with Pres­i­dent Trump.

The prod­uct of that meet­ing was a signed state­ment where North Korea pledges its com­mit­ment to de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula. The U.S. is will­ing to con­sider lift­ing sanc­tions against North Korea and has agreed to end “war games” in the South Pa­cific. Ad­di­tion­ally, North Korea will be­gin tak­ing concrete steps to end­ing its nu­clear pro­gram.

In the mean­time, the U.S. will con­sult with South Korea and Ja­pan, and then be­gin prin­ci­pals-level ne­go­ti­a­tions on the specifics.

This is all pos­i­tive. If the stan­dard for suc­cess at the Trump-Kim Sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore this week was solv­ing a prob­lem span­ning three decades in a three-hour meet­ing, then no one could have been suc­cess­ful.

Let us re­mem­ber sev­eral key facts.

Pres­i­dent Obama told Pres­i­dent-elect Trump that the sin­gle most dif­fi­cult chal­lenge he will face is North Korea.

The North Korean regime has con­tin­ued to build its nu­clear pro­gram, with failed de­ter­rence from the past three Amer­i­can presidents.

Pres­i­dent Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion suc­cess­fully ne­go­ti­ated sev­eral con­ces­sions ahead of the sum­mit. North Korea ended bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests and nu­clear tests. North Korea re­opened diplo­matic dis­cus­sions with South Korea with an eye to­ward for­mally end­ing the Korean War. North Korea re­leased three Amer­i­can hostages.

Pres­i­dent Trump has been more suc­cess­ful deal­ing with North Korea in one year than the U.S. has been in the last 30 years.

The sum­mit is only an im­por­tant first step.

But we must re­mem­ber that six months ago, nu­clear war seemed plau­si­ble, as the threats and rhetoric es­ca­lated. Those days now seem to be be­hind us.

The U.S. must con­tinue to pro­tect its own se­cu­rity, and our strong al­lies South Korea and Ja­pan, and that re­quires stead­fast lead­er­ship in hold­ing the line on eco­nomic sanc­tions and U.S. troop de­ploy­ment un­til the nu­clear threat is ver­i­fi­ably and ir­re­versibly neu­tral­ized.

The first step is for North Korea to in­ven­tory its en­tire nu­clear pro­gram. With­out this step, in­spec­tions are mean­ing­less. Once that in­ven­tory is of­fered, the U.S. needs a sys­tem of snap in­spec­tions, with no sites ex­empted. As North Korea takes these mean­ing­ful steps, with South Korea also mov­ing on a time­line to­ward de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, the U.S. can com­mit to re­mov­ing sanc­tions over time, con­sid­er­ing scal­ing down U.S. troops in South Korea, and start­ing for­mal diplo­matic re­la­tions with North Korea.

There are other im­por­tant is­sues. Their medium range bal­lis­tic mis­sile ca­pa­bil­ity wor­ries Ja­pan. Ja­pan has dozens of hostages be­ing held in North Korea. Tens of thou­sands of North Kore­ans are held in prison camps, mak­ing it one of the worst hu­man rights abusers in the world. Every one of these is­sues is im­por­tant.

But the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is wise to fo­cus their full and im­me­di­ate attention on end­ing the nu­clear threat.

The two sides are now pub­licly talk­ing to each other. Wars are less likely when both sides are talk­ing.

It took Ron­ald Rea­gan sev­eral years and five meet­ings with Mikhail Gor­bachev to strike a deal with the Soviet Union.

A com­pre­hen­sive agree­ment is com­pli­cated, and re­la­tion­ships take time to build.

While es­tab­lish­ment an­a­lysts and bu­reau­crats have crit­i­cized Pres­i­dent Trump at every step, the re­sult up to this point should be re­as­sur­ing to all Amer­i­cans.

There is much work still to be done. The de­tails here mat­ter greatly.

But Pres­i­dent Trump deserves credit for over­see­ing the max­i­mum pres­sure cam­paign, which forced Chair­man Kim to the table. Now that they have met, Mr. Trump has the kind of op­por­tu­nity he rel­ishes more than any other: Strik­ing a deal.

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