Sputnik: No matter which way you look at this agreement between the United States of America and North Korea and despite much conflict being caused by President Trump's "America First" policy with global partners, this is a huge coup by the US president to achieve such concessions and agreement by a ruling North Korean leader. Just as a starter, perhaps you could just give us an overview as to your feelings to recent events.
Dr. Joseph Cheng: Well, this is a quite surprising achievement, I do agree, especially when you compare [it] with what was going on six months ago, when both leaders were talking about pushing the button, about fire and fury and so on. Now they were heading a summit. This summit apparently was successful, both leaders expressed satisfaction over the outcome and two countries have agreed to go on negotiating at the foreign minister-secretary of state level. Both sides basically reaffirmed their respective position, North Korea pressed to engage in complete denuclearization and President Donald Trump also promised to offer security guarantees to North Korea. So, the basic foundation has been laid; as expected, they cannot make further commitments with regard to exchanges of mutual state visits as well as de-conclusion of a peace agreement. These things probably need more time. And they, as expected and reasonably, did not have enough time to reach these agreements.
Sputnik: US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un swept aside decades of hostility between the nations at this historic summit at Singapore last Tuesday jointly pledging a new future of peaceful relations and one of the significant concessions that sparked criticism in Washington. Mr. Trump declared the US would halt military exercises in Korea and pledged security guarantees to Pyongyang in return for an unwavering but unspecified commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula by Mr. Kim. This has caused some concern by Japan and the senators from the Democratic Party of the US. What's your take on these particular comments after the historic meeting?
Dr. Joseph Cheng: Well, I think everyone can agree that a good beginning, a good foundation, has been made, but the outcome is still far from certain, given the fact that previous agreements did not work out. In 1994, both the United States and North Korea were ready to reach a framework agreement and the United States promised to send two light-water reactors to North Korea in exchange of its abandonment of its nuclear weapons. The agreement did not work out. There were also agreements reached during the Six-Party talks [between China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States] in the previous decade [2003-2009]. Again these agreements did not end up in any constructive foundation for denuclearization on the part of Pyongyang. So, these failures before probably generated some sense of cynicism and perhaps pessimism. But this is the only way, obviously, to go forward. I think that the most important achievement of the summit is to demonstrate to the world that military means are off the agenda, military options are far too costly, far too dangerous, risky and they are opposed not only by South Korea, but also strongly opposed by China and Russia.
So, the parties concerned have to engage in negotiations and try to reach a solution through peaceful solutions. This is too early to assess the outcome — there must be some years of negotiations ahead before North Korea completely finishes its denuclearization program. Japan, as you said, is certainly concerned. Japan has been left out so far. As you know there have already been summit meetings between the two Koreas, between China and North Korea and between the US and North Korea now. Russian Foreign Minister [Sergei Lavrov] visited Pyongyang recently and he was received by Kim Jong-un, and Japan naturally feels a bit isolated and at the same time Japan has its own agenda item, mainly the return of abducted Japanese nationals in the previous decades and so on. And Japan may like to have a piece of action in the near future, which is also highly likely.
The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Joseph Cheng are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.