Editorial

Trump-Kim summit short on details, but we hope

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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Readers will forgive us for not doing cartwheels over the announcements coming out of the just-ended summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

While we note with interest that both leaders signed a document that includes a pledge from Mr Kim to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons, both countries have been down this road before.

Exactly 25 years ago to the date, North Korea and the US issued a joint statement, adopted in New York, declaring an agreement in principle for:

1) assurance against the threat and the use of force, including nuclear weapons;

2) peace and security in a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, including impartial application of full-scope safeguards, mutual respect for each other's sovereignty, and non-interference in each other's internal affairs; and

3) support for the peaceful reunification of Korea.

The North Korean Government also decided to suspend, as long as it considered necessary, the effectuation of its withdrawal from the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In 1994, after 15 days of talks in Geneva to negotiate an overall resolution of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, both sides agreed to uphold the principles of the June 11, 1993 joint statement and pledged to cooperate on replacing North Korea's graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities with light-water reactor power plants.

Under that agreement, the US was to make arrangements for the provision of a light-water reactor project to North Korea by 2003, would lift sanctions, and remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Unfortunately, the agreement encountered problems and collapsed in 2002.

Predictably, Pyongyang remained convinced that it was still in Washington's cross hairs and that America was never truly committed to the agreement.

That both presidents, Trump and Kim, were able to meet this week in Singapore, after decades of hostilities between both countries, exacerbated by the trading of puerile insults between both men over the past few months, is indeed an achievement.

But the summit appears to have had more public relations value for both leaders, as what they have shared with the world from their talks so far is short on details.

For instance, no timeline has been given for North Korea to break down its nuclear programme — one of Washington's key demands ahead of the summit — even as Mr Trump has said there is mutual agreement that such an activity would be “verified”.

In addition, the document does not indicate how denuclearisation will be achieved.

Notwithstanding, the historic summit has received positive feedback from the governments of South Korea, China, and Japan.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is reported as saying that the “two Koreas and [the] US will write [a] new history of peace and co-operation”.

China has commented that the summit created a “new history” and said that sanctions on North Korea could be eased if it stuck to United Nations resolutions.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has praised Mr Trump's “leadership and effort” and described Pyongyang's pledge on denuclearisation as “a step towards the comprehensive resolution of issues around North Korea”.

Even as we bear in mind the unpredictable nature of both presidents Trump and Kim, we hope, for the sake of the world, that President Moon is correct.

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