All eyes on Trump-Kim summit in Singapore

Mohammad Amjad Hossain | Published: June 08, 2018 22:23:11

By all means, a drama has been enacted by President Donald Trump of the United States (US) with regards to Korean Peninsula since the Democratic Republic of Korea, a pro-communist pariah regime, has conducted a series of nuclear tests defying sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the US as well. Since inauguration of Donald Trump as President, North Korea successfully completed the launch of a new ballistic missile on February 11 in 2017-known as North Korea's first missile test in the Trump era. By 2017 North Korea succeeded in firing 23 missiles, including ballistic ones. Interesting to note, the inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) test came on July 4 in 2017 on the Independence Day of the US. Launch of the ICBM was a stunning success.

In spite of twist and turn on the development in Korean Peninsula because of President Trump's hard-hitting remarks describing North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, South Korean President Moon Jae-In has consistently been maintaining decency in diplomacy. He time and again emphasised the need for a dialogue and direct talks with the leader of North Korea. 

Following a series of meetings between South Korea and North Korea, including participation in Winter Olympics in South Korea by the North Korean athletic delegation, the Panmunjom declaration for peace, prosperity and unification of the Korean Peninsula was signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Chairman of North Korea Kim Jong-Un on April 27 this year. In spite of the abrupt cancellation of the proposed summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman on May 24 in view of invective remarks coming from North Korea against US Vice-President Mike Pence, both South Korea President Moon Jae-In and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un held the second summit on May 27. This summit took place defying irresponsible gamesmanship of President Donald Trump. The Vice-President was portrayed as a "political dummy."

The Vice-President is reported to have remarked in an TV interview on May 22 that the Libya model would be more appropriate to denuclearise North Korea. This will only lead to following the Libya model, if Kim does not make it, the Vice-President added. 

Possibly President Trump has written a cancellation letter to save the face of the Vice-President. It sparked demonstration in front of the US embassy in Seoul while South Korean President Moon was perplexed and sorry, who is reported to have said "the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and ensuring permanent peace are historic tasks that cannot be delayed or forsaken." 

Since cancellation of the proposed summit in Singapore, much water has flown in the Atlantic Ocean. A flurry of diplomatic visits took place from North Korea by Mr. Kim Yong Chol, a close aide to Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of North Korea, to New York and the White House and by Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, to Pyongyang to exchange views on the proposed summit while a letter from Mr. Kim Jong-Un was handed over to President Trump.

Meanwhile, US ambassador to the Philippines Sing Kim, an expert on North Korea, is discussing the modalities and other formalities for the summit with North Korean counterparts, Hoe Son-Hui, Vice Foreign Minister, and Mr. Choe Kang-Ii, who is in charge of North Korean affairs. Having meeting twice with Mr. Kim Yong Chol, top aide to Mr. Kim Jong-Un, Mike Pompeo is reported to have remarked on May 31 that "I am confident we are moving in the right direction and our two countries face a pivotal moment in our relationship, and it would be nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity to waste".

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis warned that the nuclear negotiation in Singapore will be a bumpy road. He asked his counterparts in South Korea and Japan to remain alert while he was speaking on the last day of the security conference titled Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2.

The world attention is now focused on the proposed June 12 summit in Singapore between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, Chairman of State Affairs Commission of North Korea. This will be the first ever meeting of Kim Jong-Un with Trump after that held between former US President Jimmy Carter as an emissary of President Bill Clinton in 1994 to negotiate a peace treaty with Mr. Kim Sung, Supreme Leader of North Korea. He was father of the incumbent North Korean leader.

There seems tension simmering in the United States as a result of the hot and cold approach of Trump towards negotiations with North Korea. Both Secretary of Defence and Secretary of State of the United States have made it clear that North will be relieved of sanctions of the United Nations and economic benefits will flow, when the country will demonstrate verifiable and irreversible steps to denuclearisation. Two thoughts are in place as far as denuclearisation of Korean Peninsula is concerned. One thought is that denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula means not only denuclearisation by North Korea alone, but also the United States should withdraw its nuclear weapons from South Korea and its soldiers from both South Korea and Japan as well. Another thought is denuclearisation of North Korea only. The positive development is that President Trump has ruled out the Libya model of nuclear disarmament, which led to downfall of Muhammar Gaddafi's regime. It is expected that an agreement between the US and North Korea will be concluded in line with the Panmunjom declaration to bring peace on the Korean Peninsula for the peoples of two Koreas.


(The writer is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh and former president of the Nova chapter of Toastmaster International Club of America. He writes from Virginia)


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