The third inter-Korean summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has prompted a flurry of speculation over how things will unfold between the two Koreas and with the US.
To what extent the summit will revive stalled denuclearization talks between the US and North Korea is the question on the minds of many. Moon will travel to the US on Sunday to brief President Donald Trump on his discussions with Kim.
Kim pledged to dismantle missile facilities in the presence of outside inspectors and expressed willingness to shut down the country’s main nuclear reactor, but doubts persists in Washington over how serious North Korea is about relinquishing its nuclear arsenal in a verifiable way.
“In addition to what was agreed to in the joint declaration (with Kim), there was much discussion. Based on that discussion, (Moon and Trump) can have a serious discussion to expedite the denuclearization process,” National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong said Wednesday.
President Moon Jae-in. Yonhap
If Moon proves to Trump that there was indeed progress, it could set the stage for a second meeting between Trump and Kim. The White House has said talks are underway to set up such a meeting, to follow up on the first Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore.
Following the inter-Korean summit on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is willing to resume talks with the North Korean side. Pompeo, whose scheduled trip to Pyongyang was abruptly canceled last month, said he had invited North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho to restart talks with him next week in New York at the United Nations General Assembly meeting.
The outcome of the US-North Korea negotiations would impact the two Koreas’ efforts to declare an official end to the Korean War by the end of this year -- and Kim’s surprise pledge to visit Seoul within the year.
“I think Kim’s visit will take place after progress is made in the denuclearization talks or the talks on declaring a formal end to the war,” said Kim Dong-yup, a professor at Kyungnam University’s Far East Institute.
In the meantime, efforts to improve inter-Korean relations continue. Moon and Kim have agreed to begin construction work to reconnect railways and roads in the cross-border region by the end of the year.
Various military measures aimed at easing border tensions are set to be implemented within the year. On Nov. 1, a “no-fly zone” inside the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone will take effect and military exercises along the DMZ will cease.
By Yeo Jun-suk (email@example.com)