Trump-Kim summit: Excitement reaches fever pitch in Singapore
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Trump-Kim summit: Excitement reaches fever pitch in Singapore

US President Donald Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore at the historic Trump-Kim Summit on June 12.

world Updated: Jun 11, 2018 18:29 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Trump-Kim Summit,Donald Trump,North Korea
Members of the media work as part of coverage of the summit between North Korea and the U.S. in Singapore June 11, 2018. (REUTERS Photo)

Thousands of journalists, academics and officials have descended on the city state of Singapore for Tuesday’s historic summit between US President Donald Trump and reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and to make sense of what the meeting’s aftermath could be.

The two leaders are a study in contrast: Trump is almost double Kim’s age and while the US President is the most followed world leader on Twitter, Kim is not quite – or at least yet -- known to be social media savvy.

It is difficult to forecast how the meeting is likely to go: Trump is quite famously unpredictable and very few know enough about Kim to predict anything about him anyway. While a deal in the high-stakes summit could define Trump’s presidency, Kim has remained largely inscrutable for anyone to hazard a possible guess if an agreement is likely in Singapore.

Broadly, the US would like to see a permanently de-nuclearised Korean Peninsula. South Korea is not a nuclear power, and for Kim, the meeting could be a chance to gain international legitimacy and get relief from the crippling international sanctions that have long been imposed on his impoverished country.

A deal could usher in a permanent peace to end the 1950-53 Korean war, reshape the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific, end North Korea’s isolation and boost its economy.

China, North Korea’s key ally and economic benefactor, will closely monitor the summit after having played a quiet but crucial part in bringing it about.

Kim’s two unannounced visits to China in the last couple of months indicated that Beijing under President Xi Jinping will continue to be major player in the politics of the region.

“Except for a total failure, any summit result would be a net gain for China. A substantive agreement would probably include North Korean measures to substantially cut, if not completely dismantle, its nuclear capabilities and U.S. measures to dial down joint military drills with South Korea and restrain its future military deployment on the peninsula,” Paul Haenle, Beijing-based director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy told HT.

“China has a strong political interest in a successful US–North Korea summit. An improved US-DPRK relationship would help create a regional environment that makes it easy for China (and other countries) to help North Korea develop its economy and gradually transform itself into a more normal and open country,” Tong Zhao, Fellow, Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy said in a statement.

“Both Pyongyang and Washington want to make the summit a success. Moreover, the US demand of denuclearisation and North Korea’s request of safeguarding its national security, are accepted by both. The two need to overcome their deep mistrust so as to reach a mutually acceptable framework for a roadmap,” the state-controlled tabloid, Global Times said in an editorial on Monday.

The meeting, of course, will just be the beginning. Any change in North Korea will take time and carefully calibrated diplomacy among the leading powers like the US and China and regional stakeholders like South Korea.

“This is the opening salvo -- the start of what will likely be a long process. So it is highly unlikely that the summit will produce immediate progress on denuclearisation,” Haenle said.

He added: “Instead, there may be a vague agreement on denuclearisation and some commitment to begin a process toward concluding denuclearisation and eventually a peace treaty. In order to differentiate from previous negotiations so Trump can claim a victory, the agreement may be broadened to include wording on biological/chemical weapons and missiles”.

First Published: Jun 11, 2018 18:27 IST