Sputnik: President Trump has cast doubt over the much-awaited summit with Kim Jong-un, noting that Kim's attitude has changed after he talked with Xi Jinping. What could have prompted Mr. Trump to seemingly back pedal on the summit?
Jaechun Kim: Mr. Trump has become a little bit more skeptical than before in saying that certain conditions should be met for the summit to take place as scheduled. Obviously, North Korea still wants to delay the process of denuclearization, they favor this phased action-for-action denuclearization process during which North Korea will be rewarded for each step they will be taking, but the Trump administration made it very clear that they'd like to get it done, say, within six months to one year, certainly before the year 2020 when the American presidential election will be taking place. So, there are still many differences that both leaders will have to work out before the summit.
We thought that a lot of ground work has been done through behind-the-scenes diplomacy by [Secretary of State] Pompeo meeting Kim Jong-un twice. But it does not seem that way. I think it is very important for both leaders to work out major differences for the summit to take place as scheduled. With respect to your second question, as to the implication of Kim meeting Xi Jinping in China, I think, yes, China imparted a certain message to Kim Jong-un, saying, "Well, it's okay for you to cut a deal with the US, but at the same time I want American strategy military assets out of the Korean Peninsula. I don't want to see that joint military exercises between the US and South Korea.
So, China's position with regard to the denuclearization, China's position with regard to North Korea is pretty clear: They would like to roll back the American military presence, strategy military assets from the Korean Peninsula. So, I think that Xi Jinping sent that message to Kim Jong-un: "You've got to be more assertive towards the United States; we are supporting you, guys, here, so be more assertive in demanding the simultaneous process of denuclearization and compensation. Also be more assertive when you ask for withdrawal or scaling down of joint military exercises between the US and South Korea." So, what we are seeing here is a very complicated equation, tug of war, going on between the United States and North Korea on the one hand and the United States and China on the other.
Sputnik: I don't really envision that Kim Jong-un is going to go ahead with a very quick process of denuclearization because it's actually the fact that he gained nuclear weapons that made him somebody who could be approached, would be talked to as an equal, a partner, in any case. On the other hand, we have Mr. Trump and he is extremely interested in dialogue or some kind of progress with North Korea as a politician. Do you think that it's likely that he will find some kind of a compromise and go ahead with the meeting?
Jaechun Kim: I think that you have to pay attention to what he said. He said that, well, certain conditions should be met and North Korea will have to be more forthcoming with the denuclearization, otherwise Kim Jong-un will face the fate of [Muammar] Gaddafi in Libya, he sort of threatened Kim Jong-un and threatened the canceling of the summit, but at the same time he said, "Well, I realize that the denuclearization process has to be divided into several steps." I think Trump is not going to miss this opportunity to cash in a lot of political dividends. Everybody and his supporters are saying that this is the time for Trump to shine. So, I think Trump will do his best to take a political victory out of this very, very much anticipated summit with Kim Jong-un.
The views and opinions expressed by Jaechun Kim are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.