The Straits Times says

A third summit needs better preparation

After the collapse of the February summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump, the indefatigable South Korean President Moon Jae-in is trying with some success to nudge the two sides towards a possible third meeting. With Washington and Pyongyang hardly speaking with each other after the Hanoi debacle, it took Mr Moon's whirlwind 24-hour visit to the US capital last Thursday to get the two sides to articulate openly, the possibility of a third summit. First, it was Mr Trump saying, when meeting Mr Moon, that a third meeting with Mr Kim could happen. Then, a day later, in a speech to the Supreme People's Assembly, the North Korean legislature, Mr Kim said he would consider holding another round. Now, Mr Moon is planning his own summit with Mr Kim, their fourth since they first met in April last year. He told key aides on Monday that the peace process on the Korean peninsula has reached a stage where discussions at the Hanoi summit need to be developed and translated into substantive progress at the next level.

Mr Kim has set conditions for the next meeting, saying if the US approached North Korea "with the right manner" and offered a summit "on the condition of finding solutions we could mutually accept" then he would be willing to give it another go. He is giving the US until the end of the year to come up with "a courageous decision". Mr Trump, for his part, said he could be open to various smaller deals, although he added that at this point in time he is still going for the "big deal" - which is to get rid of the North's nuclear weapons. The Hanoi summit had foundered precisely over the Americans' insistence on bigger action from Pyongyang than what it had offered, which was the dismantling of its main nuclear facility of Yongbyon. North Korea had also asked for the lifting of most of the sanctions against it which the Americans were not prepared to do until full denuclearisation took place as sanctions are its key leverage.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2019, with the headline 'A third summit needs better preparation'. Print Edition | Subscribe