North Korea summit may be in danger

Gerardo Harmon
May 22, 2018

It unilaterally announced that moratorium ahead of a summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

Last Wednesday, North Korea suddenly canceled a ministerial-level meeting with South Korea planned for that day, criticizing joint military drills carried out by Seoul and Washington for undermining the recent inter-Korean moves toward reconciliation.

With North Korea's threats to back away from the talks, South Korea's leader - who has long favored engagement rather than confrontation with Pyongyang - is having to do some diplomacy to keep both the USA and North Korea interested in talking.

38 North, a USA website dedicated to monitoring developments in North Korea, earlier reported that satellite imagery shows that North Korea is preparing to build an observation stand for the dismantling of its nuclear test site.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

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Terry, who met last week with South Korean officials, said she believes Moon will make the case that Kim was simply trying to "save face" with the threats and tough statements issued last week, but not pulling back from a willingness to denuclearize.

North Korea allowing foreign media to conduct on-the-spot coverage of the facility's shutdown is seen as a sign of goodwill from Kim, who has recently committed to denuclearization - but skepticism lingers that it may be only a "political show".

"Even if the US and South Korea try to weaken China's impact in the negotiation process, Xi and Kim's recent two meetings have proved that China and its support are indispensable", said Yue Li, senior fellow at the Pangoal Institution, a Beijing-based think tank. It attempts to rule out some recent US statements as off-limits and suggests that North Korea is prepared to drive a hard bargain at the same time that Trump must deal with increasingly inflated expectations for what he is likely to realistically accomplish toward the stated goal of complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement.

In his rush to reach a disarmament agreement with North Korea, Donald Trump appears to have badly misjudged his adversary, Kim Jong Un. This first ministerial visit from India to North Korea in almost two decades was at the invitation of the North Korean government, but comes at a time when developments in the region have the potential to bring in a fundamental realignment in the balance of power. On a trip to Beijing in March - Kim's first outside the country since taking power in 2011 - Xi told him that China has made a "strategic choice" to have friendly ties with North Korea, and they would "remain unchanged under any circumstances".

Other U.S. officials have privately expressed concern that Moon, eager to make progress with the North, may have overstated Kim's willingness to negotiate in good faith over the dismantling of his nuclear arsenal. 'And for the United States, China can also be a guarantor that if there is an agreement, that the agreement is effectively implemented by the North Koreans'.

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Miyeon Oh, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, says Trump and Moon have been coordinating throughout the spring.

"In this case, the US and its allies will be free from nuclear attack but North Korea's surrounding countries like China would be affected", Zhang said.

North Korea has rejected a so-called "Libya model" championed by national security adviser John Bolton.

Mnuchin told on Monday morning that for now the summit is still on.

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