Until a few months back, the summit meeting between the leaders of the United States and the North Korea looked next to impossible. But the US President Donald J. Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) gave a big surprise to the world and held their historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018. They pledged to work together for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula that stood as the last vestige of Cold War. Termed as the ‘meeting of century’, it agreed to ‘build a lasting and robust regime on the Korean Peninsula’. There was a clear quid pro quo – Trump committed to providing security guarantees to the DPRK, and Kim reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to the complete denuclearisation of the Peninsula. In their joint statement, the sworn enemies of the past have committed to ‘establish relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.’ The two sides also agreed to recover POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified. The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official will sit for dialogue at the earliest possible date to implement the outcomes of the U.S.-DPRK summit.
In order to win the confidence of the North Korean leader, Trump has suspended the joint military drill involving the US and its ally, South Korea. Trump decided to cancel the ‘provocative’ and ‘expensive’ military exercise as confidence building measures but it has not lifted sanction on the DPRK. This was the right step on part of Trump to win the trust of young Kim, a Western-educated communist leader. The latter consented to dismantle some missile facilities in a sign that the North Korea is committed to the peace and order in the peninsula. The Summit bears historic significance. It practically ended the extreme hostile relations between the US and the DPRK, which were technically still at war. There was no formal agreement to end the Korean War that took the lives of millions of people. The Summit meeting appeared to be what NK leader Kim said, “A form of fantasy from a science fiction movie.” Now they need to prove that it was not merely a fantasy but a real event that is propitious for all.
The improbable courtship between the two equally ‘moody’ and ‘rash’ leaders provides abundant consolation to the people across the globe. In the US, Trump’s critics have begun to hit back at him for giving more concessions to the ‘reclusive state.’ One commentator even claimed that Trump was outfoxed by Kim. It is not unnatural for Trump to run the gauntlet at home owing to his arrays of controversial decisions. But all should understand that ending hostility and gaining lasting peace is not a cakewalk. Neither is it zero-sum game. Trump’s bold step to hold talks with the NK leader must be appreciated as it marks the solid step towards building trust, boosting cooperation and restoring ultimate peace. Likewise, the young Kim demonstrated mature diplomacy by taking the unimaginable initiatives for peace and by giving up bellicose rhetoric. Now it is the responsibility of both nations as well as their allies to implement the landmark agreement in letter and spirit.