US-DPRK meeting wins international acclaim
After only one day, a Twitter proposal by the US President came true, leading to the third meeting between President Donald Trump and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea leader Kim Jong-un in the demilitarized zone this Sunday. Moreover, suggested minute-long greetings turned into a long exchange lasting nearly an hour. Distinguishing this meeting from a bilateral summit, Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in joined them and made the meeting trilateral.
It’s hard to know now what fruits this meeting has borne, or how much it would affect the current situation in the Korean Peninsula as no details were released by the three participants.
The significance of this event is in no doubt, however, as the world witnessed the first sitting American President set foot on DPRK soil.
The realization of this Kim-Trump meeting from an off-the cuff tweet is indeed abrupt, but not unexpected. Signs were visible before this face-to-face talk.
The DPRK and US have kept a tacit understanding over the past four months, after the two sides failed to reach any agreement at their Hanoi Summit in Vietnam. Pyongyang and Washington both toned down their stances and kept fierce attacks against top leaders at bay despite slight squabbles.
We saw many positive signals since June, including the exchange of letters between US and DPRK leaders, welcoming the one-year anniversary of the first summit between US and DPRK leaders in Singapore.
Kim thanked his US counterpart’s courage and resolution and expressed his thoughts about the “interesting content” from Trump in the letter. We don’t know whether there was a coincidence there, as an “interesting proposal” was referenced on Twitter one week later.
In retrospect, the ROK president hinted the US and DPRK would hold talks soon, when he accepted an interview before heading to the G20 summit. Moon expressed clearly another Kim-Trump meeting was due, and also mentioned the definition of irreversible denuclearization.
According to Moon, the international community could partly lift sanctions against the DPRK if Pyongyang demolished the Yongbyon facility completely and had the demolition confirmed by an authoritative international agency.
If Moon’s proposal is adopted by the US, it means the US would be making some concessions over its former stance, i.e. comprehensive and complete denuclearization before the lifting of sanctions. The proposal mirrors the DPRK’s contentions, in fact, namely that denuclearization and sanction lifting should come at a synchronized pace.
Although it made no announcement of an adjustment from its former attitude, Trump didn’t directly refute Moon’s proposal. In fact, he stated he hoped to lift the sanctions at any time, including during the progress of early talks.
However, Trump also added he won’t rush for an agreement, which may indicate the difficulties negotiators from the US and DPRK would face at upcoming working-level denuclearization talks.
The concrete achievements and significance of this meeting depend on practical negotiations in the near future. But this event undoubtedly has benefited the two leaders, as both raised their domestic reputations through this diplomatic show.
Xu Fangqing is a senior editor at China News Week.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.