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Seems like no turning back now on Singapore summit

China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-06-05 23:56

By giving a specific time of day - 9 am - for the June 12 summit with Kim Jong-un, it appears the White House has every intent of following through on the historic summit.

However impulsive US President Donald Trump was when he first agreed to the meeting in early March, he has now come to realize the long-anticipated Singapore one-on-one with the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is just the start of a "process", meaning rapid denuclearization is unlikely.

That is a plausible statement, as was Trump's offer on Friday to put new sanctions against the DPRK on hold.

Trump made the comments when he was asked if the DPRK agreed to CVID - complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement.

"We're not going to go in and sign something on June 12th, and we never were," Trump said on Friday, in a clear downplaying of expectations for a summit that he had abruptly canceled a few days before. "We're going to start a process but I think they'd like to see something happen."

Shortly after his meeting with Kim Yong-chol, vice-chairman of the DPRK's ruling Workers' Party of Korea Central Committee, Trump also told reporters that he was putting new sanctions against the DPRK on hold and doesn't want to use the term "maximum pressure" anymore.

"We're getting along, so it's not a question of maximum pressure," Trump said. "And at a certain point, I'll tell you what, I look forward to the day when I can take the sanctions off of North Korea."

A day before his meeting with the DPRK envoy, Trump had said it could take several meetings to reach an agreement.

In Pyongyang on Friday, the official KCNA news agency reported that Kim Jong-un hoped US-DPRK relations and denuclearization of the peninsula will be addressed on a "stage-by-stage" basis.

After the turbulence and drama surrounding the on-again, off-again meeting, it is perhaps safe to say that the two leaders are now on the same page in at least one area - there is no quick fix to denuclearization.

That is important, because realizing that denuclearizing takes time will make people more rational when it comes to what to expect from the first Trump-Kim meeting days before it opens. It also allows deliberation about what steps to take prior to the summit and during the critical period afterward.

On Monday, top Democrats in the US Senate told Trump not to make a deal that leaves the DPRK with nuclear weapons. They threatened to maintain or toughen sanctions on Pyongyang if that condition were not met.

The White House also said on Monday that "powerful sanctions" will continue unless the DPRK denuclearized.

Because denuclearization faces a long and bumpy road, it is time to think which is a better approach, an easing of sanctions only after full denuclearization, or having the DPRK getting step-by-step benefits in the course?

Over recent weeks, Pyongyang has stopped nuclear and missile tests, demolished a nuclear test site, released three American prisoners and conducted a second summit meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Trump's offer of holding off on imposing new sanctions is a good gesture.

Mindful of the long-term goal and the effort to achieve it, it is important for both countries to continue meeting each other halfway, with sincerity, so that they can achieve what they and the international community hope for.

Their efforts could ultimately usher in a new era for the peninsula, one of denuclearization, peace and prosperity.

Contact the writer at huanxinzhao@chinadailyusa.com

(China Daily USA 06/05/2018 page2)

 

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