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Delayed timeline in the Korean Peninsula

Posted November. 19, 2018 07:37,   

Updated November. 19, 2018 07:37

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Chinese President Xi Jinping told South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the APEC CEO Summit in Papua New Guinea, that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited him to Pyongyang. He would possibly allow himself time to visit next year. It had been expected that Xi would visit North Korea in return of Kim’s three rounds of visit to China within this year. Previously, Moscow said that Kim’s visit to Russia would be materialized next year.

The North Korean leader's summits with his Chinese and Russian counterparts within this year are part of the diplomatic schedule projected by President Moon. Early last month, he expected that the North Korean leader would visit Russia and President Xi would go to North Korea on separate occasions from a second U.S.–North Korea summit. Moon's remarks were based on expectations, raised after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 4th visit to Pyongyang, that the two leaders of the United States and North Korea would meet earlier than scheduled. However, a schedule for diplomacy centered around the Korean Peninsula is supposed to be rearranged because a North Korean high-ranking official's visit to the United States fell through and the U.S.-North negotiations have been at a standstill.

It was reported that Moon and Xi agreed that a second U.S.-North summit and Kim’s visit to Seoul would mark a watershed and there is much possibility of seeing issues regarding the Korean Peninsula resolved soon. They might have agreed that the denuclearization process would get back on track if Trump and Kim meet, and Kim’s visit to Seoul would help lessen tension between the two Koreas. Nevertheless, focus is put on the opening of a second U.S.-North summit. If and when Trump and Kim meet at some point next year, the North Korean leader would be able to mark a milestone in mitigating conflict within South Korea, along with his visit to Seoul.

It is advised for Seoul to set a more realistic time table rather than solely focusing on materializing a visit by Kim within this year. South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myung-gyun, even on his recent visit to the United States, emphasized that Kim would visit Seoul this year, saying that the two Koreas had agreed upon the issue. However, the recent inter-Korean joint declaration stipulates that the visit in question would be made “in the near future.” It was President Moon who added “within this year, unless any particular affair arises” out of his own hopes. Such a reconciliatory mood was established with progress in the U.S.-North relations as a precondition, which thus can allow some disruption to be interpreted as “a particular affair.” With tasks left unfinished on the schedule, there is no reason or benefit to getting the jitters by obsessing over Kim’s visit to South Korea.