Time to Talk

Donald Trump; the great diplomat? Who would have thought it?

After months of very public feuding with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, it has been confirmed President Trump has accepted an request to meet Kim in person in May. News of the meeting was delivered by South Korean officials on Friday after talks with President Trump at the White House. The South Korean officials also passed a verbal message to the President from Mr Kim claiming North Korea was “committed to denuclearisation.”

It is unclear how we have arrived here. Ever since President Trump’s elections, tensions have been rising between the two nations. Insults have been tossed back and forth, and if you believe media reports, a military attack on North Korea has even been considered by the President. Talks between the two nations and the two leaders had seemed a way off.

However, over recent weeks North Korea has gone on something of a charm offensive. The Winter Olympics in South Korea brought a three day visit to the South from Kim’s sister Kim Yo-jong. Ms Yo-jong; highly influential in North Korea charmed the media on her visit and brought an invitation for South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang.

Additionally, the games saw athletes from the North and the South compete under a united Korean flag. Following the Winter Olympics, a South Korean delegation then visited Pyongyang as guests of Kim. This meeting and delegation has been widely credited for securing this meeting between Kim and Trump.

So what has caused this shift in policy? Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono believes North Korea’s sudden charm offensive has shown the sanctions are starting to bite. U.S Vice President Mike Pence has argued that this meeting has shown the U.S strategy of isolating North Korea is working. However this has come about, it is undoubtedly this is a step forward.

For too long the two leaders have been engaging in a dangerous game of nuclear chicken. Therefore, this represents a welcome mood change! Undoubtedly, there remain many hurdles to be overcome and for the time being it would be wise to not expect too much from these initial discussions as in reality we do not know have any idea as to what is motivating Kim and what his game plan could be.

All we can now do is hope that this is the first step on the way to peace. A less belligerent, denuclearised North Korea engaging with the West would be in everyone’s interests.

Therefore, over to you Mr Trump and Kim.

Article by Mike Hough

Photograph: CNN

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