Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Kim meeting 'not just theater'

Kim meeting 'not just theater'

President Trump's decision to meet North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, by the end of May poses both risks and opportunities for China. "South Korea planned military exercises", he added.

Trump has agreed to an invitation by Kim to meet after a year of heightened tensions over North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Officials in Seoul say Pyongyang is keeping them in the dark as well.

Kim is scheduled to meet South Korean President Moon Jae In at the JSA in April for their first ever summit, and South Korean officials see it as a top contender for a Trump summit as well. In a September 2005 joint statement, Pyongyang agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons and nuclear programs, while the USA said it had no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and that it would not attack North Korea. Sherman said that while she did not believe Kim is "in any rush to denuclearize", she was glad the United States is entering into talks, even if it just starts with "a meeting". As Baik suggested, sometimes it takes a while to figure out what that message should be.

President Trump immediately welcomed, in his own unorthodox way, the peaceful gestures from North Korea and accepted to hold a summit with the North Korean leader in May at a venue that has yet to be decided. "Even though China's efforts did not produce immediate results", Global Times said, "the consistency of those efforts helped convince North Korea it had no future with nuclear weaponry and the only way out of its dilemma was to abandon nuclear weapons". No sitting U.S. president has ever met a North Korean leader. First came Kim Jung-un's declaration that he will never use nuclear weapons against South Korea, in a gesture that aimed to suggest that blood is, after all, thicker than political differences.

Tillerson says many steps must occur before the meeting between Trump and Kim. The two men would face each other after a public volley of insults, with Mr Trump calling Mr Kim "Little Rocket Man" and Mr Kim referring to Mr Trump as a "dotard".

Asked whether Kim made any mention to the envoys of the abduction issue or his willingness to hold a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Kono said he "will refrain from saying anything other than what has already been announced".

Sherman, who served as special adviser to President Bill Clinton on North Korea, traveled to North Korea with then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000. The South Korean leader visited Beijing in December on a trip aimed at thawing tense bilateral relations strained over Seoul's decision to host a United States missile defence system that Beijing sees as a threat to its own security. It could be that Trump's policy of talking tough, combined with years of economic sanctions, has yielded dividends and Kim will put abandoning his nuclear programme on the table.

Again, we don't know. And with many details to work through, there's a lot of work to be done before the meeting becomes a certainty.

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