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ANALYST VIEW-North, South Korea pledge to end war, seek denuclearization

by Reuters
Friday, 27 April 2018 22:08 GMT

(Adds analyst comments) WASHINGTON/SEOUL, April 27 (Reuters) - North and South Korea agreed on Friday to pursue the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," and work toward declaring an official end this year to the 1950s Korean war. 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 possibly meet U.S. President Donald Trump in late May or early June, in what will be an unprecedented first encounter between sitting leaders of the two countries. The following are analysts' reactions to the Korean summit, held at the village of Panmunjom in the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone dividing the two countries. EVANS REVERE, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF ALBRIGHT STONEBRIDGE GROUP, WASHINGTON "The summit was a success from the perspective of its optics, pageantry, and preparation ... But the substance of what the leaders discussed is a very different story. "The Joint Declaration is largely a compilation of past bilateral agreements between Seoul and Pyongyang dating all the way back to 1972, virtually all of which ended up in failure. "Meanwhile, nothing in the statement suggests Pyongyang is prepared to denuclearize. Add to that the fact that North Korea's definition of denuclearization bears no resemblance to that of the United States. And President Trump's breathlessly positive response to the summit suggests he could fall into a North Korean trap at a U.S.-DPRK summit if the North Koreans offer him even a minor concession. "Kim Jong Un's skills as a tactician and a negotiator were on full display at the Panmunjom summit. Let's hope that President Trump's advisers are preparing him particularly well for his meeting with Kim. He's about to meet a real pro." JOSHUA POLLACK, SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE AT MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES "A comparison of the joint declaration with the 2007 declaration shows a lot of recycled points, which is what you might expect, since there has been no progress since then. All of the joint economic development projects of 2007 are missing, too, since they are blocked by sanctions. "The new declaration puts down markers for a series of additional meetings - military in May, commemoration of the 2000 joint declaration in June, family reunions in August and a Moon visit to Pyongyang in the fall. These meetings should help to sustain a sense of momentum. But real progress will very difficult without the U.S. "Right now the signs are not encouraging. Kim Jong Un signaled his intention to retain nuclear weapons indefinitely at a Party meeting last week. Donald Trump keeps restating that there will be no sanctions relief before North Korea disgorges its entire nuclear weapons program. I don't know if a U.S.-North Korea summit will happen, or what it will produce if it does happen. "North Korea has still not announced any plans for such a meeting. Kim himself spoke at the signing ceremony for the joint declaration, saying only that the two Koreas faced a 'headwind,' or a 'wind from outside,' in trying to cooperate. I take that to be his opinion of the U.S. role so far." ABRAHAM DENMARK, DIRECTOR OF ASIA PROGRAM AT WOODROW WILSON CENTER, WASHINGTON "Beneath the warm images and friendly words, there is still no trust and no clear way ahead. "This summit sets a high bar for Kim's meeting with President Trump ... And the fundamental question remains: whatever deal is struck, how do we implement and verify that North Korea is holding up its end? "We must remember: North Korea is still North Korea. Kim is still the same person he was when he purged potential rivals, imprisoned thousands of his people, and had his relatives killed. This was a hopeful moment, but extreme caution is well warranted." JONATHAN SCHANZER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES, WASHINGTON "We have seen promises from North Korea many times in the past. The question now is whether Kim Jong Un is ready to deliver, or if this is a prelude to yet another deliberate effort to spurn the West. "Only an upfront demonstration of Kim's commitment to denuclearization will show he is serious this time. The Trump administration should continue and even increase the maximum pressure campaign. "During the next summit, between the U.S. and North Korea, Trump should insist on seeing credible steps toward denuclearization. Without that, he should be fully prepared to walk away and increase the financial and diplomatic pressure, all the while demonstrating that the United States is capable of a military response - if it ever comes to that." PAUL HAENLE, DIRECTOR OF THE CARNEGIE–TSINGHUA CENTER FOR GLOBAL POLICY, BEIJING "The Trump administration likes to believe that Kim is willing to come back to the table because of its maximum pressure campaign and its credible military options ... But is Kim really willing to abandon the nuclear program he has so heavily invested in? Or will he, as most Chinese experts suggest, be more likely try to seek an agreement not to develop beyond his current capabilities?" DAVID ALBRIGHT, PRESIDENT, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY, WASHINGTON "The three-page declaration is breathtaking in its scope and ambition. "But how to achieve all the goals laid out in the document, given the current situation? Unless a firm foundation and plan for North Korea's complete verified irreversible nuclear disarmament is laid out with a relatively short schedule (two-three years), most of the other commitments in the declaration are merely wishes." HARRY KAZIANIS, DIRECTOR OF DEFENSE STUDIES AT THE CENTER FOR THE NATIONAL INTEREST, WASHINGTON "While the optics were certainly astounding - with hand-holding, tree planting and big goals - nothing was achieved beyond vague promises that amount to nothing, at least for the moment. This appears to be little more than a Potemkin summit, as Kim Jong Un and his regime are once again trying to trick the world again into thinking he will denuclearize. "History will likely judge this gathering as big on pomp, but delivering no more than great photo ops. What the world must demand now is that Kim turns his words into deeds - like the quick removal of his nuclear weapons. If not, then we know the world has been deceived by North Korea - again." KIM YOUNG-HEE, HEAD OF NORTH KOREAN ECONOMY DEPARTMENT AT KOREA DEVELOPMENT BANK "Everything will not be resolved in the blink of eye. Denuclearization needs to happen in certain phases, which could lead to easing sanctions, then to resuming economic cooperation projects. "Kim Jong Un ... declared denuclearization, 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 denuclearization." YOO HO-YEOL, PROFESSOR AT 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." (Reporting by SEOUL bureau, Nobuhiro Kubo in TOKYO and David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick in WASHINGTON; editing by Clarence Fernandez, Lincoln Feast Frances Kerry and G Crosse)

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