Second Trump-Kim meeting may happen in Oct, if Moon could clear hurdles in Pyongyang, source said

BY SILVI WRITER

 

A second meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may take place “as early as in October”, a diplomatic source said in Seoul, as South Korean President Moon Jae-in will arrive in Pyongyang on Tuesday for his third meeting with Kim.

Moon’s visit to Pyongyang will be critical to clear hurdle, the source, who attended last week’s Seoul Defense Dialogue 2018, said.

“The possibility is big. There should be a breakthrough,” he said.

The source even said Kim may visit Washington this time, “maybe in October”.

Trump may need the second meeting with Kim to boost support ahead of November’s mid-term elections in which his Republican Party risks losing congressional control.

The US president is faced with mounting political pressure at home to ease up on trade wars – which have pinched consumers and prompted painful retaliation against US exports.

SKOREA-NKOREA-US-NUCLEAR-DIPLOMACY

In her regular press conference on Sep 10, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that the Trump administration was “in the process of coordinating” a follow-up to the June 12 summit meeting between Trump and Kim.

The confirmation of efforts toward a second summit came after the White House noted that Trump had received another letter from Kim — a letter that Sanders described as “very warm, very positive.”

“The primary purpose of the letter was to request and look to schedule another meeting with the president,” Sanders told reporters gathered for the briefing.

North Korea held a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of its founding on Sep 9 Kim’s decision not to include any nuclear-capable assets in that parade paid off, with Trump personally acknowledging it on Twitter as a “a big and very positive statement.”

“It’s unsurprising that we’re on track for a second meeting between the US and North Korean leaders”, Ankit Panda, editor at The Diplomat, wrote.

“In recent weeks, it’s become increasingly apparent that it would take precisely another tête-à-tête between them to prevent a total collapse of the diplomatic process, which had become bogged down over fundamental disagreements over the meaning of denuclearization.,” he added.

Moon’s ‘toughest challenge ever’

South Korea is pinning high hopes on Kim’s remarks to Moon’s special envoys last week that he wants to realize denuclearization within Trump’s first term in office ending in early 2021, the first time line he has ever given.

Moon will discuss ways to achieve that goal with Kim, seeking to engineer a proposal that combines a concrete framework for North Korea’s denuclearization and a joint declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War, Seoul officials said, according to Reuters.

Next week’s inter-Korean summit will test whether South Korean President Moon Jae-in can pull off his role of mediator and salvage stalled nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

The first inter-Korean summit of 2018, a sunny spectacle in late April, reduced war fears on the peninsula. The second, an emergency one in May, helped ensure the first, historic meeting between Kim and Trump.

At his third summit with Kim next week in Pyongyang, according to the Associated Press, Moon faces his toughest challenge yet: delivering something substantive that goes beyond previous vague statements on denuclearization and helps get US-North Korea talks back on track.

Negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have sputtered in recent weeks, raising doubts about whether Kim is truly willing to relinquish his nuclear arsenal and putting pressure on Moon to broker progress once again.

The result will likely be a crucial indicator of how the larger nuclear negotiations with the US will proceed.

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