Kim Jong-un says summit with Donald Trump stabilized region

Larry Hoffman
September 20, 2018

As he landed at Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport on Tuesday morning, Moon was greeted by Kim, his wife Ri Sol-ju and other top North Korean officials, as well as a large honour guard and a military band. But it's still unclear how much, if at all, North Korea has followed through.

And also that inter-Korean summits could now be held any time, even just for one day without any preparation, allowing the two leaders to meet whenever they wish.

The outcome of this summit is being watched closely by the US.

Government data showed last week South Korea's unemployment rate hit the highest level in August since the global financial crisis, with mandatory minimum wage hikes leading to a sharp slowdown in hiring.

Moon isn't the first South Korean president to visit Pyongyang. "It's all grand theater, North Korean style".

The project ran for more than 10 years but was suspended in 2016 after North Korea carried out its fourth nuclear test.

He spoke as South Korean President Moon Jae-in was visiting Pyongyang to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to try to revitalize the North's denuclearization talks with the United States.

There are worries that it would remove key leverage against North Korea and might make war more, not less, likely, if it creates momentum toward withdrawing the USA troops stationed in South Korea as a buffer against North Korean aggression and, if Pyongyang gets its way, inserts a wedge between Seoul and its US ally.

What's the significance of the summit?

Getting all USA troops out of Northeast Asia is a longtime goal of North Korea.

In the war, US-led multilateral forces fought alongside South Korea against the North, which was supported by China and the Soviet Union.

Both Koreas likely have an ally in Beijing, which has always been wary of the U.S.

The primary focus of Moon's trip is to address ways to reduce tension on the Korean Peninsula and avoid armed conflict between the two countries. On the other hand, North Korea wants a regime-security guarantee that includes declaring the Korean War over and signing a non-aggression peace treaty.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he wants Moon to work as a "chief negotiator" in moving the nuclear talks forward.

He said if that happens, coupled with a potential midterm election defeat for U.S. Republicans, "that would be disastrous".

There is a possibility of the president watching the "Brilliant Fatherland" mass gymnastics performance unveiled by the North on the occasion of its 70th founding anniversary earlier this month following the summit talks or art performance.

Experts said the summit could bring some solutions to the current nuclear stalemate and the process for denuclearization should accompany fundamental changes in U.S.

Although North Korea has dismantled its nuclear and rocket-engine testing sites, a United Nations report said there has been little to no evidence that Pyongyang has scaled back its nuclear program.

Agreeing on a timetable is a core task for Moon, as it would induce U.S. action, said Lee Jung-chul, a professor at Soongsil University in Seoul.

Every year on September 9, North Korea celebrates its birthday by holding a military parade in the capital, Pyongyang.

What does closer engagement mean for the rest of Asia?

It also wants the lifting of US -led sanctions. -South Korean alliance and the presence in the South of USA troops and their high-tech, high-powered technology and weapons. "North Korea is not going to catch up to the region without integrating economically to the region and without lowering the regional tensions", Delury said.

"Without solving this issue first, no discussion on possible economic collaborations between the two countries would have any meaning". "The Chinese would rather have stability and peace on the Korean peninsula (than) instability right on their doorstep".

Currently, all major joint projects between the Koreas are stalled because of US-led sanctions. It's a "delicate dance" for all players in the region. "They should be free to pursue this as this would be good for building peace".

The reunification of North and South Korea, if it happens, is still far down the road, analysts say.

Washington has so far said that there can be no end-of-war declaration until North Korea reveals the contents of its nuclear program as a precursor to dismantlement.

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