Welcoming the summit

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Welcoming the summit

The White House made it official. On Monday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, announced the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be held in Singapore on June 12, at 9 a.m. The meeting will mark a historic turning point in post-Cold War diplomacy. It is unprecedented that a U.S. president meets with a head of state from a rogue nation.

The summit will offer a priceless opportunity for North Korea to ease its security concerns and economic woes through a face-to-face meeting with a U.S. president. The summit carries great significance as it will help establish a foundation to stabilize not only the Korean Peninsula but also Northeast Asia, which has been under a constant nuclear threat from North Korea, and lead the recalcitrant state toward reform and opening by putting an end to decades-old hostilities and the North’s isolation. That’s why the summit must bear successful results.

The two countries’ dramatic return to the summit after Trump’s abrupt cancellation of it means that both sides may have hammered out a draft of a resolution of the deepening North Korean nuclear crisis at the last minute. Washington’s step to ease up on its “settlement of the issue in one stroke” and modify some details of the agreement to partially accommodate the North’s demand for a “phased and simultaneous solution” might have helped break the deadlock, along with Pyongyang’s partial concession to Washington’s demand that North Korea send its nuclear weapons to the United States.

What is left is Trump and Kim’s determination. If Kim directly promises Trump to take the path of complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of his nuclear arsenal — and if Trump ensures regime security for North Korea in return — through a joint statement, the summit will be successful. We hope that officials from both countries do their best in the remaining week to help their leaders achieve the goal.

But Trump and Kim should not deviate from the essence of the denuclearization to rush to achieve tangible results. Due to the increasing possibility of Trump impatiently striking a deal with Kim, Democrats in the U.S. Congress sent a letter to the White House warning that they will push for a bill aimed at blocking the administration from easing sanctions on the North unless Trump reaches an agreement to remove not only North Korea’s nuclear weapons but also its other types of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons. As South Korea is the first target of the North’s nuclear threats, the principle of CVID must be kept. We hope the Moon administration plays its role as a mediator wisely so that Trump and Kim do not depart from that key principle.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 6, Page 26
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