Singapore Summit: Redesigning Korean Peninsula

INTRODUCTION

The World just now witnessed a historic, phenomenal encounter between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un, the ripples created by this meeting is emanating tremendous positive vibes in the entire regions. Both leaders have little in common, except their willingness to take huge political risks. Their readiness to gamble on the first-ever summit meeting, with the history of these two nations breathing venom against each other for many decades, has been breathtaking. 2017 has seen both nations coming to the brink of a nuclear war in the Korean Peninsula, followed by a war of Saber- rattling and confrontational rhetoric. However, 2018 saw both the leaders moving rapidly towards unfreezing the conflict unpredictably, to the great relief of world nations. Though a detailed mutual declaration by both the leaders after the talks between Trump and Kim, was significantly missing, the short statement they issued has huge potential to revamp the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula.

Three Mutual Commitments.

The first is from Kim, who reaffirmed his “firm and unwavering commitment to complete de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.

The second is from Trump who declared-“ US will provide security guarantees to North Korea.”

The third was a joint pledge to build a “ lasting and robust peace regime in the Korean Peninsula”.

The key to understanding the essence of the declaration lies in the appreciation of the interlocking nature of the three commitments- that progress on one, for example on eliminating nuclear weapons, depends on security guarantees and constructing a peaceful order in the Peninsula. This approach of US shows a departure from the traditional bullying tendencies of the largest nuclear nation. It viewed the problem differently this time, to peaceful negotiations rather than resorting to punishing sanctions and forcing Korea to perform nuclear disarmament.

Trump who began with the idea of “maximum pressure” has thankfully moved to a peaceful framework built around two ideas-‘ building personal trust and thinking political ‘. On the first count Trump was ready to travel a long way from America to Singapore and sit down with Kim without any preconditions. After the talks, he expressed optimism that he has full confidence that Kim could be a trusted partner to work with. On the second, Trump showed willingness to go further ahead in guaranteeing security to North Korea, than his predecessors.

Trump, as a conciliatory gesture, stated that he would scale down the routine aggressive US military exercises in the Peninsula. As the part of a long term peace proposal, Trump further anticipated bringing back home 32,000 US troops stationed in South Korea.

Reciprocating Trump’s generous gesture, Kim had a new humanitarian approach towards US. He agreed to recover the remains of American prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action during the Korean War of 1950-53.

Singapore Summit – Highlights

Both the world leaders met at the Capella Hotel, on Sentosa Island in Singapore for the historical summit on 12 June 2018. World countries exclaimed it as the “greatest show on Earth”. At least for today.

After the summit, Kim declared-“the world will see a major change” and he and Trump” decided to leave the past behind”. Kim agreed to destroy a major missile testing site, but offered no specifics.

As a show of trust, Trump even showed the interiors of his presidential limousine , “The Beast” as they strolled on the ground after lunch. Kim was definitely smiling as he curiously peered into the ‘ beast’.

Reactions of World Countries

The immediate stake- holders South Koreans cheered seeing the outcome of summit. Japan snapped up a news paper special edition and China played down the significance of this summit. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe welcomed Kim’s written commitment to complete de-nuclearisation. New Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammad said that “ both sides must be prepared to give in certain issues if they expect to reach a good conclusion”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the summit was “an important milestone in the advancement of sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable de-nuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula”.

Iran warmed North Korea not to trust US President Trump who, it said, could cancel their de-nuclearisation deal within hours. It came with the back drop of US pull out of a 2015 Nuclear deal with Iran, called it flawed and re-imposing unilateral sanctions.

India welcomed the historic summit, between Donald Trump and Kim calling it a “positive development”. The Indian MEA also hoped that hoped that the resolution of North Korea would address Delhi’s concerns about Pyongyang’s proliferation linkages to India’s neighbourhood, in a veiled reference to its links with Pakistan and China. It is worthwhile to remember that Minister of State for MEA, Gen VK Singh was the first Indian Minister to visit North Korea after a gap of 20 years.

CONCLUSION

For World, Trump – Kim summit raises cautious hope for co-existence and harmony. It was a turbulent past of 70 years for both nations who were proclaimed to be hostile and suspicious of each other. A thaw in such a strained relationship is unprecedented and looks like a new Hollywood film theme. It is significant to remember what Trump has declared in his first address to the IN General Assembly on 19 September 2017-“ US will totally destroy North Korea”. On 21 September 2017, Kim responded by calling Trump” mentally deranged” and asserting that “ a frightened dog barks louder”.

Both the leaders have made remarkable U-turns from their proclaimed stands and had come a long way to make Singapore summit possible. However a lot of confidence building of this kind will be needed when the US and North Korea begun to nail down the detailed of implementing the deal in the coming weeks and months.

JAI HIND