Four more days until Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, and Donald Trump, President of the US, are expected to meet in Singapore (12.06). Officials on both sides are working behind the scenes to lay the ground for the historic meeting. Meanwhile Japan’s PM Abe has flown to Washington to convey his country’s security interests, fearing they will be overlooked.
Why does it matter?
It seems unlikely that North Korea and the US will reach a decisive deal next week. Too big are the remaining differences. Both parties have different interpretations about what ‘denuclearisation’ means. The US’ interpretation is CVID: complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea. Meanwhile the North Koreans only seem willing to denuclearise under the condition that the US withdraws its troops from the Korean peninsula.
Most negotiations involve compromises. How far each side is willing to go will be seen. North Korea crossed a red-line last year when it tested ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) capable of reaching the United States. A possible first step towards a more comprehensive denuclearisation might involve the abolishment of the ICBMs in return for gradual sanctions relief. The meeting should focus on creating a diplomatic framework for further negotiations. A meeting with no deal and no diplomatic roadmap in sight would signal that diplomacy has failed. A realisation that every party would want to avoid.
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