S. Korea-US summit eases US-N. Korea tensions

May 24, 2018, 09:59 am

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President Moon Jae-in talks with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC on May 22./ Source: Yonhap News

By AsiaToday reporters Joo Sung-sik & Choi Tae-beom 

The atmosphere of the NK-US dialogue, that has been chilled for a while, is once again stabilizing with the South Korea-US summit as a momentum.

The US-South Korea summit was meaningful in that it reviewed the overall situation and direction toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. It has delivered a clean message about denuclearization and security guarantee to North Korea, attracting it to the North Korea-US summit. 

In particular, the South Korean government has eased distrust between the North and the United States by dispelling worries about US-North Korea summit raised by both sides. The government is expected to perform the role of a mediator for the success of the US-North Korea summit with the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue expected to be held after May 25. 

"The US-South Korea summit has made the North-US relations less shaky. The two leaders got more consideration for North Korea, contributing to a certain amount bringing North Korea's decision," Moon Sung-mook, chairman of the Unification Strategy Center of the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, told AsiaToday in a phone interview on Wednesday. 

In fact, President Moon Ja-in and US President Donald Trump have agreed to work together closely to hold the US-North Korea summit set for June 12 in Singapore as scheduled.

In particular, Trump directly referred to security guarantee that North Korea wants in return for denuclearization, saying, "We will guarantee his safety, and we've talked about that from the beginning." He also showed a flexible position to step back from an "all in one" denuclearization to denuclearization "in phases."

"I was starting to have doubts over US-North Korea summit, but now it's not necessary to have such doubts," Moon Sung-mook said. "It's meaningful that the leaders of South Korea and the United States agreed to work closely to successfully hold the US-North Korea summit. They have shown solid cooperation in terms of symbolism," he said. 

"The US-South Korea summit dealt with the issues that North Korea brought up," said Kim Joon-hyung, professor at Handong Global University.  

Some had raised concerns that a historic summit between the United States and North Korea might not happen as Trump said the North must meet conditions for the summit to go ahead though if it did not, it might happen "later". North Korea also mentioned the possibility of reconsidering the summit. 

But Trump's remark can be interpreted as his willingness that he would not be swayed by the North rather than cancelling the summit. This demonstrates that Trump is deeply engaged to succeed the summit talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. 

The fact that North Korea has provided permission for journalists from South Korea to attend the dismantling of its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site right after the inter-Korean summit, and that President Moon said high-level inter-Korean talks will resume, appears to show the future inter-Korean and US-North relations. 

However, experts point out that the government should not watch North Korea too much to meet the North Korea-US summit schedule. "Our goal should not be shaken," said Moon Sung-mook. "Even if the talks are postponed, we should cooperate firmly with the United States so that North Korea agrees to a complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization," he added.
#S. Korea-US summit. US-N. Korea #security guarantee #mediator #Moon Jae-in #Donald Trump 
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