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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on June 13)

2018/06/13 09:20

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New start for peace

The first U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore Tuesday raised expectations for new relations between the foes of the 1950-53 Korean War and the peace process for the Korean Peninsula. U.S. President Donald Trump said his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "went better than anybody could have expected."

   The two leaders signed a comprehensive agreement on bilateral issues. With regard to North Korea's denuclearization, the core issue in long-running bilateral negotiations, Trump said "we are starting that process," and it would begin "very, very quickly." The two countries have been at odds over the U.S. demand for "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID)." In the agreement, the U.S. agreed to provide a "security guarantee" to North Korea, while Kim reaffirmed his "firm and unwavering" commitment to the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

   The two leaders deserve equal credit for realizing the historic U.S.-North Korea summit, which is something their predecessors failed to do. With their first meeting, the two leaders have laid the foundation for a new era of bilateral relations. There were some shaky moments leading up to the meeting, with Trump declaring to cancel it just weeks before the scheduled date. The realization of the unprecedented summit is the result of the strong wish of the two leaders to really make a substantial progress on the Korean Peninsula.

It remains to be seen how much impact their agreement will have on actually bringing results on North Korea's denuclearization. It will require commitment and sacrifice from both parties to realize permanent peace on peninsula, which is the shared goal of both countries as well as South Korea. But regardless of the implementation of the agreement, the meeting has left an extremely important legacy in that it marked the start of direct communication between the leaders of the Cold War foes.

The Trump-Kim meeting was unthinkable just a few months ago. In his New Year speech, Kim highlighted that a "nuclear button" was always on his table, which prompted Trump to tweet "I too have a nuclear button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his." The usual hostility between the two countries was nowhere to be seen as the two leaders shook hands at the start of the historic meeting in the Capella Hotel.

After talks and a working lunch, followed by the signing of the agreement, Trump said they had formed a "special bond." It was noteworthy that Trump, who had previously mocked Kim as "Little Rocket Man," treated Kim like any other leader, saying it was an honor to meet him. He also paid some unusual compliments to Kim, calling him a "talented man" and "smart negotiator."

   Trump also said he was willing to invite Kim to the White House. The Singapore meeting should be the first of more to come for further progress in U.S.-North Korea relations, while promoting mutual understanding and communication on the security of the Korean Peninsula.

After shaking hands with Trump, the first thing Kim said was that the two countries had overcome "all of the old prejudices and practices" to get to the meeting Tuesday. North Korea and the U.S. should leave the past behind and look only forward for consistently building a path to peace, no matter how long it takes.

(END)

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