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Ramifications of Trump's visit to demilitarised zone

Mohammad Amjad Hossain from Virginia, USA | Published: July 08, 2019 21:22:28 | Updated: July 11, 2019 15:54:05


Trump shakes hands with Kim Jong-Un as they meet at the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Panmunjom, S.Korea on June 30. — Photo: Reuters

On June 30, Donald Trump became the first sitting US President to cross into the demilitarised zone, immediately after wrapping up the G-20 summit in Tokyo, Japan. As such, he has made history. Since an agreement between China, North Korea and UN Command led to the formation of the demilitarisation zone in 1953, no US President has ever been to it till the Trump meeting with Kim Jong-Un there.

Interestingly, the meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un took place, after Trump tweeted: "If Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!" Kim Jong-Un accepted the offer.

However, after the two leaders met on June 30 at the demilitarised zone, Trump said to Kim Jong-Un, "It's just an honour to be with you. And it was an honour that you asked me to step over the line. And I was proud to step over the line".

President Trump held a three-way meeting along with South Korean President Moon Jae-In to discuss the complete denuclearisation of Korean peninsula in order to establish peace in the region.

As of now there has been no progress towards the denuclearisation process of North Korea, despite two failed meetings between USA and North Korea held in Singapore and Hanoi in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

The last two-day bilateral meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam in February collapsed after President Trump walked out of the meeting abruptly. Since relations between President Trump and North Korean Supreme leader Kim Jong-Un has been in a limbo, the third meeting at the demilitarised zone seemed to come out of nowhere.

But, China was briefed about the meeting by the US. US had assured China of its willingness to strengthen communication and coordination with the Chinese side on Peninsula issue. China has recently said that they are glad that the nuclear talks have resumed between the two sides.

This dramatic meeting took place following the first visit in 14 years by Chinese President Xi Jinping to North Korea on June 21. During his conversation with Kim Jong-Un, Jinping assured the North Korean leader of the "unshakable policy of the Chinese communist party and the government in maintaining relations". China and North Korea are in fact more like business partners.

Prior to this, the North Korean supreme leader had met with Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation. Through that meeting, Kim Jong-Un reportedly wanted to discuss the ways through which the series of economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Nations against the pariah state of North Korea can be removed.

The denuclearisation talks have resumed after the two leaders of South Korea, a close ally of the United States, and North Korea agreed to work to formally end the Korean war and rid the Peninsula of nuclear weapons and achieve the goals laid out in the document signed by both leaders on April 27, 2018.In the statement, South and North Korea had confirmed that their common goal is to have a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

However, the present situation is far from the stated fact. North Korea in fact carried out missile tests in May 2019. Incidentally, President Trump dismissed the concern expressed by many, including immediate past Vice-President of USA Joe Biden, about the missile tests by North Korea.

The drama enacted by President Donald Trump appears to have been largely ineffective as on July 03, North Korea's mission to UN accused the United States of being "more and more hell-bent on hostile acts against North Korea" despite President Trump wanting talks between two countries.

In a statement North Korean mission in UN said it was responding to US accusations that Pyongyang breached a cap on refined petroleum imports.

Prior to this, on July 01, Chuck Schumer, Minority leader in the Senate of the United States, criticised President Trump for the meeting with Kim Jong-Un. Calling the Trump visit to North Korea as "one of the worst few days in American foreign policy", he added, "He admires these strongmen". Schumer also said to CNN's Anderson Cooper on "Anderson Cooper 360" about the US President, "He doesn't have principles about what rule of law is, what a democracy is."

Calling the meeting an extension of Trump's "erratic" foreign policy, which "hurts us in the long run", Schumer listed all the things that Trump has done wrong in the week between June 26 and July 01: "Praising dictators, messing up foreign policy left and right, what he did in North Korea giving Kim Jong Un what he wanted, calling him a friend, patting him on the back, and getting nothing, absolutely nothing in return".

China, South Korea and the United Nations along with the USA should take steps in line with the agreement signed between North and South Korea on April 27, 2018 as that can help towards the denuclearisation process. Also, North Korea seems desperate to get rid of economic sanctions for its survival. China, USA and the UN should take advantage of this.

Mohammad Amjad Hossain is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh and former President of Toastmaster International Club of Virginia, USA

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