BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The on, off, on-again meeting in Singapore between US President Donald Trump and leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Kim Jong Un has highlighted the complexity of the Korean Peninsula issues and how formidable a task it is to resolve them peacefully through talks.
Plans for the summit are moving "very nicely", US President Donald Trump said on Sunday, having already done a 180 on the letter he sent to Kim on Thursday canceling the meeting. A White House team reportedly left as scheduled for Singapore over the weekend to prepare for the summit.
Trump's brinkmanship led to a hastily arranged meeting between Kim and Republic of Korea President Moon Jae In on Saturday, in which Kim told Moon he considered the Singapore summit a historic opportunity to end decades of confrontation - a view that most would probably agree with.
But Moon told reporters on Sunday that Kim's concern is whether his country can truly trust the United States and its promise to end hostile relations.
Such concerns are not unreasonable since Washington has seemed intent on aggravating those concerns with talk of Libya-style regime change and, in Trump's letter, the implied threat of a nuclear strike.
That Seoul has agreed to discuss with Pyongyang a possible non-aggression pact and start talks on a peace treaty to replace the armistice agreement is a welcome move that may help ease Pyongyang's fears.
However, ultimately, Washington will need to demonstrate it is willing to do the same.
It is the lack of trust between the two parties that is the major obstacle to achieving permanent peace on the peninsula.
The US wants to relieve its own security fears with "complete, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearisation by Pyongyang before giving the latter security guarantees and economic assistance.
While Pyongyang wants to denuclearise in stages, with corresponding reciprocal actions from the US.
This is hardly common ground.
Yet direct talks between the Kim and Trump are imperative if the efforts to reduce tensions are to realise the permanent peace dividend that now seems to be tantalisingly within reach.
Washington and Pyongyang should hold dear the progress that has been made and not spoil the gains that have already been achieved with impatience.
The momentum for peace on the peninsula has never been stronger, and it should not be abused.
Pyongyang and Washington need to confirm their shared will to meet face-to-face and instill confidence that they will be talking in good faith when they do.
China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media.