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The long road to a Korean peace

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14.06.2018

WASHINGTON – The historic reality show, featuring a cast of thousands (mostly journalists), is over, and the principals have returned home.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has seen firsthand a large global city outside China, with Singapore providing an inspiring paradigm for what a non-nuclear Pyongyang might be some day.

U.S. President Donald Trump has come to realize again that Asia is a more pleasant place for him to be than Europe, or even many parts of his own North American neighborhood, as the recent Quebec summit of Group of Seven leaders so clearly proved.

In the wake of the Singapore summit, how far have we moved along the road to a Korean peace? It is easy to be skeptical, but my take is that this recent summit was better held than not.

Maintaining close U.S.-Japan coordination in its aftermath will be a challenge, given some divergence in Japanese and South Korean interests, combined with American sensitivity to both.

Yet all three countries share an interest in a prosperous Northeast Asia free of nuclear weapons, which far-sighted common policy must adopt as a transcendent goal.

In the wake of Trump and Kim’s extended meeting, and the positive reaction to it that the two seemed to share, it is worth exploring, at least, whether North Korea is capable of seriously changing course. Pyongyang has successfully tested both nuclear weapons and advanced missile systems, yet has not perfected them, giving it both the confidence and the incentive to talk.

And given its backward economy, together with tightened sanctions and an escalation of American threats over the past year, North Korea may also feel a greater need to negotiate than was previously........

© The Japan Times