After the inter-Korean summit, a South Korean delegation met with US president Donald Trump in Washington with a message from Kim Jong-un that North Korea was willing to discuss terms of denuclearization. The proposed meeting between the pair is set to take place in May. President Trump hailed the great progress in relations but insisted that sanctions would remain in place. South Korea's President Moon Jae-in said the news came like a miracle.
Sputnik: How prepared is the US administration for this meeting?
Dylan Loh: There are questions over Rex Tillerson and how much is he in the loop on the North Korean issue because just recently he said talks with North Korea are a distant possibility and this has now come to be realized. I think that they are prepared, I don’ think they are wholly unprepared, the timeline does give them some time to prepare to think about their own strategy and what they’ll want to achieve from this meeting. A lot of it will really hinge on what Trump himself wishes to derive from this because looking at his reaction you see that one of his comments were, I hope the media gives me credit for doing this. I do not think that it would fall apart, there will be something from this meeting for both parties.
Sputnik: What topics other than the nuclear situation could be covered in these talks?
Dylan Loh: I think a lot of issues will be raised; chief amongst them all would be the denuclearization. Kim has been prepared to give it up. Others that will be raised in tandem with the nukes would be sanctions, whether South Korea and the US will scale down some of their activities. It was interesting that the South Korea official said that Kim accepts the reality of joint exercises between South Korea and United States. I do think that the US would respond in kind or at least scale down some of the exercises, reducing some of the numbers and the scale in which it takes place. Whether there will be some loosening of sanctions that will be discussed or tied in to denuclearization. There should also be a scaling back of the rhetoric that has taken place over the past year. There should be some acknowledgment that personal insults between the leaders after the meeting must be reduced or not said at all.
Sputnik: The last attempt at talks was a decade ago, could we likely see other leaders involved in the talks
Dylan Loh: There is always a chance that North Korea or the United States would walk away. I think there is a chance of them making something out of this and coming up with a solution and managing the issue. I am cautiously optimistic about this because both leaders have more reasons to make this work than to make it not work. There are several favorable factors working at the moment for example there was peace during the Olympics and North Korea has indeed not tested themselves and they stated up front the four hour marathon talks that the North and South had in Pyongyang was indicative of this I think. It could be a trap, North Korea could agree to suspend their nuclear testing and they go back on it, which happened before in 2012.
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