U.S. President Donald Trump told a news conference on Wednesday that the United States would do “everything possible” to make a planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jon Un successful. “We hope to see the day when the whole Korean Peninsula can live together in safety, prosperity and peace,” he said. South Korean President Moon Jae-in also said, “Many people have called my Berlin declaration in July last year a dream, but that dream is now becoming reality.” He says his administration will make efforts to “narrow the gaps” between Washington and Pyongyang and “suggest measures acceptable to both sides.”
Trump is heightening expectations over his planned summit with Kim. Although he said he would “leave” the meeting if it is “not fruitful,” he even mentioned a “bright path” for the North. While his buoyancy, in part, reflects his considerations for his domestic political need, it could also be a high-level tactics ahead of a historic negotiation. It is Trump’s message to the North, which is having contacts behind closed doors, and to the upcoming inter-Korean summit.
That has increased burdens on President Moon. A roadmap for the North’s denuclearization and a peace regime will ultimately be completed through an agreement between Pyongyang and Washington. Therefore, it is essential for the Moon Jae-in administration to coordinate with President Trump in preparing for the inter-Korean summit. While Moon stressed Thursday the North’s commitment to “complete denuclearization” by saying that he did not think there is difference between Washington and Pyongyang over denuclearization, the most important things are ways and means of making the North implement its denuclearization commitment.
The communication between Seoul and Washington is bearing fruits little by little. For starters, Trump’s language has changed, using the South Korean government’s rhetoric of “security, prosperity and peace on the Korean Peninsula.” Just as President Moon admitted, however, the most important challenge lies in “overcoming the devil that is in the details.” Now, Seoul and Washington should thoroughly share their strategies and tactics through more solid coordination.
North Korea will hold a plenary session of the Central Committee of its ruling Workers’ Party today. As the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said the meeting would be held in order to “discuss and decide the policy issues of a new stage in line with the demand of the important historic period,” it is expected that Pyongyang will change its policy of pursuing both economic and nuclear development. We expect the North to make a decision to shift toward its complete denuclearization.