Singapore Summit: Trump card makes Kim’s North Korea fall in line?
The US President Donald Trump did something historic on Tuesday which his predecessors Barack Obama or George W. Bush never attempted to – Meeting Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. With diplomats across the globe having a sleepless night, president Trump played his secret cards silently in an attempt to ‘denuclearise’ the Korean Peninsula.
The meeting between the two politically powerful leaders – Trump and Kim – lasted for surprisingly 50 minutes at Capella Hotel in Singapore’s Sentosa Island. During the meeting the North Korean leader signed the “comprehensive document”, with a pledge to work towards neutralisation of its ongoing nuclear projects for peace and prosperity in the Korean Peninsula.
Returning the favour to his counterpart, Trump promised Kim to provide security guarantees to the North Koreans, by removing “International Sanctions”. Not only this, both leaders agreed to help each other in recovering the remains of Prisoners of War and those missing in action, post identification. After the historic meeting, the statement released stated that the US and DPRK are “committed to hold follow-on negotiations”, led by Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and a relevant high-level DPRK official soon for the implementation on the Singapore Summit, according to a report in USA Today.
Why This Sudden Meeting: The United States’ Perspective
Fear Psychosis: From the United States’ viewpoint, the presence of nuclear and intercontinental ballistic weapons in North Korea is a threat not only for its country’s civilians, but also for the 28,500 (NYT, May 4, 2018) army personnel present in its ally country South Korea. It is also estimated that from the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) – created in 1953, which separates the two Korean Nations – Seoul is minutes away from the DPRK’s airstrike. The proximity is such that by the time both US and South Koreans can react, it may be all over.
Eye on 2019: Trump might not be the most celebrated politician in the United States, like his predecessors Obama and Bush, but he knows his politics very well. Political analysts are of the opinion that with this historic meet, Trump has done more good than harm while eying for the second term as President in 2019. As his recent decisions on climate control (The Guardian, Dec 19, 2017), Visa (The Hindu, Feb 23, 2018) and G7 meet (NDTV, June 10, 2018), Trump’s popularity among the American people have receded over the period of time.
In a trial to regain the confidence of fellow Americans, Trump is on overdrive to prove a point or two. He is making it loud and clear that his government can make peace deals and overpower a nuclear nation without using arms and spend billions of dollars in wars, like Bush did in Iraq and Obama in Afghanistan.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s Perspective:
Popularity Issues: Experts are of the opinion that though Kim Jong Un seems to the most powerful dictator globally, his popularity among the North Koreans is decreasing with time. Unlike his predecessors, who were more powerful during the Cold War period, Kim’s experiments and fascinations with the weapons have sent a wrong message to the people of DPRK.
Economic Crisis: Under Kim’s rule, the trade with nations has come to a halt. The economic slowdown and natural calamities have had an impact on the lives of people. Considering a lesser fact that India was third largest trading partner with North Koreans until 2015-16, stopped trading with North Korea reacting to the intercontinental ballistic missile launch. During the UPA 2 government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh in 2010, reportedly 900 tonnes of soya beans and 373 tonnes of wheat were exported to North Korea to revive its food economy, according to a report in The Indian Express.
Trade analysts are of the opinion that the DPR Korea has yet not recovered from the famine of mid-90’s that crippled the nation with food shortage being the main issue.
Who Gains From This Summit?
As Kim Jong Un said (via a translator), “We have decided to leave the past behind”, adding, “The world will see a major change”, the clouds on the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula might have disappeared for the time being. However, Trump’s decision to not to lift the “International Sanctions” on DPR Korea certainly indicates that water is not that calm as it looks.
With politicians, diplomats and political allies keeping an eagle’s eye on the strategic bonding between the two leaders and analysts trying to solve the mystery, it’s too early to say who gained more – the United States of America or the North Korea.
Photo Credit: www.ft.com