April 27, 2018 / 10:50 AM / 25 days ago

Expert Views: North and South Korea pledge to end war, seek denuclearisation

SEOUL (Reuters) - North and South Korea agreed on Friday to pursue the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” and work towards declaring an official end this year to the 1950s Korean war.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pose with Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju and Moon's wife Kim Jung-sook at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters

The summit of Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-In was the first between the leaders of North and South Korea in more than a decade.

Kim is expected to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in late May or early June, in what will be an unprecedented first encounter between incumbent leaders of the two countries.

Here are analyst reactions to the Korean summit, held at the village of Panmunjom in the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone dividing the two countries.

TAKASHI KAWAKAMI, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, TAKUSHOKU UNIVERSITY, TOKYO   

“The biggest concern is withdrawing the U.S. troops. In the joint declaration they used the word ‘Korean peninsula’ about denuclearisation, which indicates they’re probably referring to withdrawing the U.S. troops in South Korea.

“How will Trump respond to this? If South Korea should say something about how the U.S.-South Korean alliance is un-needed, since Trump has previously criticised them as a “free rider” there’s the possibility he could withdraw them.

“If this happens, Japan would become the front line. Japan’s security risks would increase. The Chinese navy would probably come into the Sea of Japan, as would the Chinese air force, and this would be unbearable for Japan’s Self-Defence Forces.”

KIM YOUNG-HEE, HEAD OF THE NORTH KOREAN ECONOMY DEPARTMENT AT KOREA DEVELOPMENT BANK

“Everything will not be resolved in the blink of eye. Denuclearisation needs to happen in certain phases, which could lead to easing sanctions, then to resuming economic cooperation projects.

“Kim Jong Un...declared denuclearisation, and promised to halt nuclear tests. That tells (us) he wants the United States to guarantee the safety of his regime. North Korea wants a clear guarantee from the United States in return for denuclerisation.”

KIM DONG-YUB, PROFESSOR, KYUNGNAM UNIVERSITY’S INSTITUTE OF FAR EASTERN STUDIES

“Kim Jong Un was speaking live to the world today. Kim wants to come across as a reliable leader about what he said today, and his efforts look certain to have achieved meaningful progress.

“Kim is at least taking steps in order to achieve a nuclear-free peninsula, which is warming up the mood, then making sure military activities disappear and show willingness to denuclearise.”

YOO HO-YEOL, PROFESSOR, KOREA UNIVERSITY

“The two Koreas can map out plans for the future, but those plans cannot be executed without the lifting of sanctions. To embark on railroad construction, North Korea must pave its way to having those sanctions lifted.

“As Kim Jong Un is planning on meeting Trump in the next few weeks, maybe Kim and Trump may figure things out and railroad construction and other economic cooperation can go forward with the blessing of Trump.”

LEE CHOON-GEUN, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY INSTITUTE

(On North and South adopting complete denuclearisation of the peninsula as a common goal)

“South Korea had also given up on producing near-weapons grade uranium in the past, under the 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. So Seoul has already done its part. Kim and Moon’s pledge should be understood as a broad set of goals. I believe specific action plans will follow today’s summit.”

KIM CHUL-WOO, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW AT STATE-RUN KOREA INSTITUTE FOR DEFENSE ANALSYSES

“This time Moon and Kim provided a direction for economic cooperation because the two Koreas can’t just  resume halted economic projects right away and that is a challenge to work on and needs international cooperation to address North Korean sanctions.

“All of these issues are interlinked and a much needed first step is denuclearisation and that has to be guaranteed to move forward.

“I think the U.S. armed forces in Korea were not mentioned to save it for the North Korea-U.S. talks. In the statement, the two Koreas agreed to have talks with the United States and China, and I think this reflected North Korea’s request to maintain good relations with China...

“Overall, they shared the goal of ‘complete’ denuclearisation and showed they will resolve issues gradually and we will see more when Moon visits Pyongyang in the fall.”

YOO HO-YEOL, PROFESSOR OF NORTH KOREAN STUDIES, KOREA UNIVERSITY IN SEOUL

“Kim and Moon pledging complete nuclearisation of Korea as a common goal implies that Seoul has its homework to do.

“It means North Korea is demanding U.S. forces leave and suspend all military drills. Not doing those two things could justify North Korea’s nuclear pursuits. The two leaders agreed on phased disarmament, which is all related.

“Kim Jong Un didn’t outright pledge to denuclearise in his speech, but he could do this when he meets Trump, because there is pressure for Kim to give out something even bigger during his summit with Trump.”  

Reporting by Seoul bureau, Nobuhiro Kubo in TOKYO; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Lincoln Feast

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