Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

Inclusive Talks Will Resolve US-DPRK’s Issues

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Inclusive Talks Will Resolve US-DPRK’s Issues

The second summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump in Hanoi, the Vietnam capital, ended abruptly without making headway. Washington demanded “permanent, irreversible, verifiable” denuclearization but Pyongyang insisted on lifting sanctions.
Since the first meeting, held in June in Singapore, the vaguely-worded agreement signed between the two sides for denuclearization did not bear result despite the statement made in the fact that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in the UN Security Council that “Chairman Kim committed to work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”.
It is really surprising to see that the statements of US and North Korea’s officials were different or contradictory after both the first and second summits. Following the second summit, Trump claimed that Pyongyang had demanded complete sanctions relief, but North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho refuted the claim saying that his side asked only to lift five of the 11 sanctions under the US Security Council resolutions and had offered a “realistic proposal”, including the dismantling of its main nuclear site at Yongbyon.
The two past summits show that US is seeking “disarm and investments will follow”, but North Korea demands simultaneous and parallel move.
It seems that a trust deficit lingers between Pyongyang and Washington. On the one hand, the US side seems skeptical of Norther Korea’s seriousness about denuclearization and, on the other hand, Kim doubts the bona fide intention of Trump’s administration for pursuing a tit-for-tat deal. But Kim answered to the question of a foreign journalist that if he were not serious, he would not have come to Hanoi. Building mutual trust is believed to be a prerequisite for reaching a fruitful consensus.
It is evident that seeking a package agreement and once-and-for-all denuclearization in one meeting or two is neither reasonable nor possible. It is unlikely to include all the prerequisites and conditions of denuclearization and Pyongyang’s demands, such as withdrawal of US troops from the Republic of Korea, the lifting of sanctions and guaranteeing the security of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in a single package. Thus, a “phased” and “synchronous” approach will be promising.
The negotiating sides had been expected to chart a clear roadmap to delineate the process of denuclearization and lifting of sanctions as well as the demands and responsibilities of each side. But the summit came to an end without tangible result.
Regional stakeholders expected a more positive outcome of the summit and wanted both sides to reach an effective consensus. “For example, for North Korea to agree to international monitors checking and reporting on its nuclear weapons and facilities; and for the US to agree partially lift sanctions,” Cheng Xiaohe, a professor of Korean studies at Renmin University, is cited as saying before the summit. He reiterated Beijing’s support for the summit. 
Overall, in the Hanoi Summit, the two sides made strides in building trust as Trump and Kim sat face-to-face to resolve the insurmountable issue through negotiations despite the harsh rhetoric and Trump’s “fire and furry” and the cold war between the two sides. For example, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington remained optimistic about nuclear talks with North Korea and it was closer to reaching an agreement with the Pyongyang than before. Such reconciliatory approach would mitigate regional stability. In other words, although it is unlikely to have all issues in a single package in one meeting or two, the summit was one more step forward to decreasing the cold war mentality.
I believe the summit served as a platform for bringing US and North Korea closer and creating more room for optimism and better relations between the two sides. I emphasize that all the issues will not be finalized overnight and US President and North Korean Chairman have to schedule a next summit for finalization.
To resolve the issue, the two sides have to consider engaging regional stakeholders in the talks. For example, China and Russia played essential role in brokering talks between Seoul and Pyeongyang and can continue their role, if they are demanded, to put their weight behind the talks.
An inclusive negotiation with the participation of regional stakeholders will lead to a more sustainable and trustworthy agreement. Moreover, the international community has to push for an inclusive consensus between the US and ROK on the one side and DPRK on the other side and make sure the agreement is practiced by all sides.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and freelance writer based in Kabul. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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