The Straits Times says

Maintaining momentum in Korea talks

A year can be a long time in global politics. This time last September, US President Donald Trump went before the United Nations General Assembly meeting to denounce North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as "little rocket man". Today, when he addresses the General Assembly, the tone will most likely be softer, perhaps even laudatory of the younger man. A series of secret trips to Pyongyang by CIA chief turned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a Singapore summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim, robust mediation by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and Mr Kim's apparent willingness to talk details on "complete and verifiable" denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula have kept the peace process alive.

The leaders of the two Koreas have just concluded their third summit meeting. As much as the optics of a photo opportunity on top of Mount Baekdu, revered by all Koreans, the summit underscored the attempt by the South to retain the initiative on affairs affecting the Korean Peninsula; Mr Kim has been to China thrice this year to meet President Xi Jinping and Western calculations are that the Chinese leader is quietly guiding Mr Kim as he navigates the tangled web woven by seven decades of hostility on the peninsula, where Big Powers have often sought to use the minnows as cat's paws on the Asian chessboard. If only for this, a key outcome was the Korean defence chiefs agreeing to end all hostile behaviour.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2018, with the headline 'Maintaining momentum in Korea talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe