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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on June 12)

2018/06/12 07:00

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'Talks of the century'

  : Trump, Kim urged to make landmark deal

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will sit together for a historic summit in Singapore tomorrow. The two leaders are certainly under great pressure to make the "talks of the century" a success.

First of all, they should do their best to make a landmark deal on how to denuclearize North Korea in return for security guarantees for the Kim regime. For this it is important to agree on full denuclearization of the North.

However, it is still unclear if a major breakthrough can be made. So working-level officials of the two sides held 11th-hour negotiations Monday to narrow their differences. This explains why the summit is viewed with both optimism and skepticism.

Against this backdrop, the success of the summit will no doubt depend on Kim's genuine intention. Without his sincere and firm commitment to denuclearization, Kim cannot convince Trump that Pyongyang will take the path toward peace, coexistence and co-prosperity.

Therefore we urge Kim to comply with the U.S. demand for "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" (CVID). If he does so, he can easily get what he wants from the U.S. The rewards may include security assurances and economic benefits, including sanctions relief and investments, which are badly needed to revive the crippled North Korean economy.

Kim should present concrete action plans and a timetable for the denuclearization process. He also needs to accommodate another U.S. demand for shipments of nuclear weapons abroad for their dismantlement. He should not try to obfuscate his commitment to denuclearization.

On the part of the U.S., President Trump is required to firmly stick to his stance on CVID. If Kim accepts the CVID formula, Trump needs to provide a "complete, verifiable and irreversible guarantee (CVIG)" for the Pyongyang regime. And if this happens, it may start a peace process on the Korean Peninsula which will lead to a formal end to the Korean War, a peace treaty and the normalization of diplomatic ties.

However, Trump needs to see to it that he does not play into Kim's hands during the summit. Skeptics fear Trump may make too many concessions to Kim in a bid to show "something" to Americans before the upcoming November midterm elections. He must not compromise the fundamental framework for the North's denuclearization. Otherwise, he may run the risk of repeating the mistakes of previous U.S. administrations which failed to get the North to abandon its nuclear ambitions for the last 25 years.

Of course, it is difficult to solve the nuclear standoff once and for all. It is equally tricky to end the seven decades of hostility and bring a lasting peace to the peninsula and Northeast Asia. In this regards, it is worth noting that Trump could invite Kim to the White House if the summit goes well. A one-time summit cannot fix all the problems in one stroke. We hope today's summit will make a breakthrough to open a new era of peace and prosperity.

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