Diplomacy the only way forward with N. Korea

Peace-loving people all over the world must be dismayed by United States President Donald Trump's advice to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (Trump tells Tillerson: Don't waste time on talks with North; Oct 2).

Mr Trump is the President of the most powerful nation in the world, and the leader of the free world. Hence, he has a moral responsibility to make the world safe.

The North Korean problem was created by former US president George W. Bush, when he included the country in his infamous "axis of evil".

North Korea took the message seriously and quickly sought shelter under the nuclear umbrella.

Since it is now armed to the teeth, force is not an option to make it join the community of peaceful nations.

The only viable option is diplomacy.

The US must use all diplomatic means to persuade North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to sign a peace deal.

To achieve this, the US must first give up its policy of regime change. Second, it has to offer peace and prosperity to the North Korean people through some form of Marshall Plan.

President Trump must learn from the best of America's past presidents.

The US and Soviet Union were on a collision course during the Cold War in the 1960s.

But in June 1963, then President John F. Kennedy made a path-breaking speech at the American University in Washington, DC.

He said: " 'When a man's way please the Lord', the Scriptures tell us, 'He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him'. And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights: The right to live out our lives without fear of devastation; the right to breathe air as nature provided it; the right of future generations to a healthy existence?"

Within weeks of this speech, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed to sign the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

V. Navaratnam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2017, with the headline 'Diplomacy the only way forward with N. Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe