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Hanoi Summit: Will the economic hook open the diplomatic window?

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Recently, both ends of Asia were on fire—India-Pakistan (South Asia) and North Korea-America (Northeast Asia). Given the historical reality of partition and attendant problems, Indians may empathise with the intractable complexities arising from the partition of Korea. Winding the clock back on peninsular partition is, no doubt, complicated. This constituted the backdrop to the second summit between North Korea and America in Hanoi, Vietnam, eight months after the first summit in Singapore in June 2018, which came to a standstill sans agreement, news conference or even a cursory handshake.

The Korean partition north of the 38th parallel along the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) into North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and South Korea (Republic of Korea) can be traced back, it is said, to a line drawn up by two young American officers, who fell back on a National Geographic map. Despite the fact that the Korean War (1950-53) ended in an armistice agreement (technically, the two Koreas are still at war), the Koreas not only share a notion of minjok (one race), hope of reconciliation that echoes in the (unofficial) moving anthem Arirang, so also Hangul (script) that North Korea adopted much earlier but South Korea adopted fully in the last two decades (historical texts in the Koreas are in Chinese, Hanja).

Whilst the situation at both ends of Asia has lacked neither theatrics nor updates via social media, and neither grandiose statement by political leadership nor voluminous newsprint, peace has been elusive. The solution in the Northeast Asian peninsula hasn’t been forthcoming because North Korea and the US are not on the same page.

Also read | Why India needs more women in workforce? Here’s what is stopping them

North Korea and the US literally occupy two ends of the spectrum in their interpretation of what ‘denuclearisation’ means. The American interpretation of denuclearisation is ‘complete, verifiable, irreversible, denuclearisation’ (CVID), which entails North Korea to place all its cards on the table—a comprehensive list of missiles and test sites, inspections and the possibility of North Korea’s entry into the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty........

© The Financial Express