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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on June 7)

2018/06/07 06:57

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Caution against bad deal

Success of summit depends on full denuclearization

With only six days to go before the historic summit between the U.S. and North Korea, attention is focused on whether the leaders of the two nations can narrow their differences and agree on how to denuclearize the North.

On Wednesday, the White House announced the summit will be held at the Capella Hotel in Singapore, June 12. The meeting is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. (local time). The hotel is located at a luxury resort on Sentosa Island.

The announcement of the venue and time shows that Washington and Pyongyang have made substantial progress on the summit agenda. Some experts speculate that both sides have almost finished drafting a joint statement to be issued at the end of the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

We hope the U.S. and the North make thorough preparations, including the logistics and protocols, to make the summit a success not just in tone but in substance. What's most important is that Kim should agree to the full denuclearization of the North.

The success of any negotiations usually depends on dialogue and comprise. There is no doubt the same goes for the Trump-Kim summit. So it is important for the two leaders to have a flexible attitude about the summit agenda. They also need to exercise their deal-making skills to the best of their ability. But one thing that cannot and should not be comprised is the full-fledged dismantling of the North's nuclear weapons.

Now, critics in Washington and Seoul raise some concerns that President Trump might make too many concessions to the Kim regime during the summit. These concerns are more evident after Trump met with Kim's right-hand man Kim Yong-chol at the White House last Friday. He delivered a letter from Kim Jong-un to Trump.

After the meeting, Trump managed to put the summit back on track after briefly cancelling it due to Pyongyang's bellicose rhetoric about hawkish U.S. officials' demand for a "Libyan model" for denuclearization. Since then Trump has shown a remarkable change in his hard-line stance.

First, the U.S. leader said he would not use "maximum pressure," an apparent move to appease the Kim regime. Trump has also taken a step back from his demand for "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID." He appeared to lower his expectations for the North to dismantle its nuclear arsenal swiftly and completely.

In addition, Trump said it was likely that more than a single meeting would be necessary to achieve his goal of denuclearizing North Korea. This has prompted fear that Trump might repeat the mistakes of previous U.S. administrations, which failed to force the North to abandon its nuclear weapons program over the last 25 years.

To quell these worries, President Trump should try to work out a comprehensive agreement on full denuclearization of the North in return for security guarantees for the Kim regime. He needs to keep in mind that no deal is better than a bad deal.

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