The June 12, 2018 high-stakes summit between the American and North Korean leaders is meant to consolidate peace in the Korean Peninsula.
Kim Jong-un, leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK or North Korea, has in recent times drawn the world’s utmost attention. First, in 2017 with repeated nuclear and ballistic missile tests and threats to strike US interests with his newfound deadly arsenal. And since the beginning of this year, with the offer of an olive branch to arch rivals, South Korea and the US. Then came the historic meeting on April 27, 2018 between Kim Jong-un and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in.
One of the outcomes of the summit was the decision by Pyongyang to align its time zone with Seoul, a move that took effect on May 4, 2018. The reset is “the first practical step” to speed up Korean unification, the official KCNA news agency said. The time difference of 30 minutes was introduced by DPRK in 2015. Perhaps more importantly, Kim Jong-un pledged to dismantle his country’s main nuclear testing site at Punggye-ri later this month in full view of South Korean and US experts.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump is upbeat about his coming summit with Kim Jong-un later this month or early in June. “We now have a date and we have a location, we’ll be announcing it soon,” Trump told journalists outside the White House on May 4, 2018. He added that he was expecting “very, very good things” to come out of the talks. Prior to the high-stakes summit, Trump will host South Korea’s Moon Jae-in at the White House on May 22, 2018.
The meeting between Trump and Kim was agreed last March after a South Korean delegation met the DPRK leader in Pyongyang and later visited the White House. America’s main goal in the forthcoming talks is to secure North Korea’s nuclear disarmament. Meanwhile, President Trump on May 10, 2018 welcomed back home three Americans who were jailed in North Korea.
The White House said they were freed as a gesture of goodwill ahead of the meeting between Trump and Kim. Trump earlier denied suggestions that he was considering withdrawing US troops from South Korea as part of the negotiations.
The success of last month’s Panmunjom meeting between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un was praised by regional stakeholders like China, Russia, Japan and the US. China sent Foreign Minister Wang Yi to North Korea last week. Preparations are also underway for Kim Jong-un to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinz? Abe after the former expressed the interest.
The Japanese side hopes to raise the abduction of its citizens by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s. In a landmark telephone conversation, Prime Minister Shinz? Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping on May 4, 2018 agreed to closely cooperate in resolving DPRK’s nuclear weapons and missile issues.
By meeting with Xi Jinping twice this year and Moon Jae-in last month, thereby raising prospects of denuclearization, Kim has proven to be a shrewd tactician before talks with Trump. The upcoming Trump-Kim summit is therefore a significant public-relations coup and diplomatic victory for the DPRK leader.
On April 27, 2018, Kim became his country’s first leader to step beyond the 38th Parallel that divides the two nations, where he grasped the hand of a smiling President Moon Jae-in and promptly guided him over to visit the northern side of the demarcation line. After his historic meeting with Moon, some South Koreans now say they trust Kim Jong-un 78 per cent.