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Monday, June 18, 2018

The road to Singapore: Kim and Trump summit

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The on-again, off-again summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un finally happed on 12 June 2018 in Singapore.

Kim earlier ruled out the so-called Libya model where it loaded its nuclear program onto planes bound for America right away, but he said later on that the issue should be solved on a stage-by-stage basis. Trump insisted that the end goal is denuclearization, but has left the door open to a phased approach.

The summit held under the full glare of the world and the roughly 3,000 journalists have converged on the island state of Singapore. An agreement is signed by the two parties to keep talking. Such a deal involves a lofty declaration that both sides seek peace - even a formal treaty - and a commitment to work towards the goal of ridding the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons. But this is the biggest sticking point between the two sides.

It is probably unrealistic for Trump and Kim for agreement on all aspects of denuclearization at their first meeting, but many experts say it is still possible to go meaningfully beyond a kick-the-can-down-the-road accord.

To do so, they would need to emerge with a clear sense of what the diplomatic pathway is for achieving complete and verifiable denuclearization for all nuke power countries. That would include a timetable for detailed negotiations on dismantlement, verification, and implementation phases. North Korea will be angling to hang on to the weapons as long as possible as America does.

Trump should have offered Kim a number of immediate and tangible incentives to start getting rid of American nuclear weapons. The relief from the tightest economic sanctions the US has imposed on North Korea in decades.

Trump could also reduce the number of American troops in South Korea from the 28,500 currently deployed towards 22,000, the minimum allowed under an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress and confirmed on May 14 last. But the sad fact is that Trump has done nothing of any of these sorts.

In a more modest step, the US could agree to limit the size and scope of its military exercises. North Korea would likely be expected to curtail its military drills in return. These are the most important aspects of this summit which are bilked by Trump foxily.

Trump's quicksilver negotiating approach has yet to prove effective in reaching new deals on the global stage, if anything so far he has proven far more adept at cancelling agreements than creating them. If Trump gets a big piece of the nuclear pie of North Korea and he will turn it down.

There is a risk that he is the stubborn combatant party, whereas Kim is the reasonable party. Trump's meeting with Kim on June 12 in Singapore can play out in a number of ways.

For such a deal, North Korea would get security guarantees and calibrated economic incentives from the US and its allies as confirmed by American President, but with details which are left to be skeptical. Rather than warning that Trump would keep the younger Kim's feet to the fire with sanctions until he complies American dictated conditions.

If Trump's very recent remarks are a blueprint for how he has planned to negotiate with Kim, they foreshadow a process that would resemble - rather than reinvent - those undertaken by Clinton and Bush.

The question is does Trump know and comprehend the nature or meaning of what American establishment has been doing since the World War-II with its nuke weapons, Tomahawk fighters… in other independent and sovereign countries and that what he is now playing is not big-bang historic? Has he prepared to stop all these American misdeeds to establish a peaceful world-order? The answer is very simple and clear to everybody across the world.

It is also important to appreciate the personal situations of Kim and the central character, Trump, in this drama to know why both were pushing for the summit. Swiss educated, in his mid-30s, with an attractive wife and young children, Kim should be basking in the glow of a man who has his best years ahead of him.

Trump starts from the other direction. Derided by his own media as a moral and intellectual lightweight more comfortable at being a wrecker than builder, the US 45th President is desperately in search of a diplomatic victory to plume his hat. Sitting down with a North Korean leader in a summit would be something no previous American leader has achieved, or attempted.

Great theatre, movie classic or history documentary, this has been one fast-paced chronicle. Let's call it off!Everyone plays games. Now, Trump seems satisfied that his deal-making skills are paying off with Mr Kim.

Such diplomatic see-saws must be seen as par for the course, given the tangled web that is the Korean peninsula. It was only natural that a range of emotions from fear to loathing, hope - and doubt - are in play.

Although Kim appears to rule unchallenged, it is not inconceivable that he does face internal pressures and warnings to not give too much away too soon.I think that Donald Trump understands that peace through strength and power is very important.

Trump is fully aware that the North's nuclear programme was not built in a day, and dismantling will not come in an hour. But at least a start would be made. And it has been made in Singapore.Some observers also believe that South Korea, China and Russia all seem poised to resume trade and economic aid to North Korea.

"The trick will be to reach agreements that may not be the Libya model of immediate disarmament but that stop, roll back and eventually dismantle North Korean programmes in a way that gives us confidence that they aren't cheating," said Joel S. Wit before the Singapore summit, an expert on North Korea who was involved in diplomacy during the Clinton administration.

"The only way to do that is to meet their concerns on issues like a peace treaty," Wit said. "It's not ideal, but that's what negotiations are about. It's not one side capitulates. It's both sides win." But in fact, one side has won only in Singapore summit! And that is America though the historic encounter and handshake have bechanced!

The joint declaration signed by the United States and North Korea, in which Pyongyang agrees to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, is an outcome that IS welcomed by China although there may be concerns that there is no stipulation that this will be verifiable and irreversible.

Never thought I would see the day of Kim-Trump Summit, but Shakespeare is true when he wrote, "There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy." I urge all Americans for one day to come together, put political differences aside, attach humanity above all and bury all sorts of nuclear weapons, Drones, Tomahawk like fighters et al. This is truly a historic day for not only this country, but the entire world.

Today as people all over the world, we should be proud and pray for success leading towards world peace, no more war, no bombings, no more destruction, no more killing…
I think Kim is clearly worthy for Nobel Peace Prize.


The writer is a freelance contributor and wants to be known as a most ordinary senior citizen of the country

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