Donald Trump is a diplomatic leader

USA - North Korea
One small step for Trump ... one big step for peace in Northeast Asia?

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Author: Dr. habil Bernhard Seliger

On Sunday, June 30, 2019, a mini-summit between the American President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un came as a complete surprise. Trump was initially at the G-20 summit in Osaka and then traveled on to Seoul.

When a visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Panmunjom was being prepared as part of the travel preparations, the American President tweeted: "I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon):

While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border / DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello (?)! "

This invitation was initially received with ridicule worldwide and was perceived as a typical Trump publicity stunt. The world public was all the more astonished when North Korea actually accepted the informal invitation.

In the afternoon the time had come: The US President came out of the "Freedom House" on the South Korean side of the DMZ and walked exactly 19 steps towards Kim Jong-Un, who was coming from the North Korean side. At the demarcation line, they both greeted each other, obviously delighted. With a small step we then went on to North Korea, in the shadow of the two huts, which are set up for negotiations exactly in the middle of the DMZ and where the border runs exactly in the middle of the hut. Trump stayed in North Korea for about a minute, making him the first American president ever to set foot on North Korean soil. After only a minute they went back to South Korea, where both were expected by South Korean President Moon Jae-In and then retired to Freedom House, where they talked about an hour.

In a tweet, Trump asked North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un if he could say hello for a moment

HSS Korea

What's next?

Many questions remain unanswered, such as whether the meeting really came about so spontaneously from Donald Trump's tweet or not. Some point out that both North Korea came with a large team (including the first Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, the Deputy Director of the Agitation and Propaganda Department of the North Korean Workers' Party, Hyon Song Wol, the first Deputy Director of the Organization Department of the Labor Party of North Korea, Jo Yong Won, Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho and Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong) as well as the USA, where in addition to Trump his daughter Ivanka, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, the US Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris and Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Special Envoy Stephen Biegun attended the meeting. However, this is how the American team came from the G-20 summit, and the high-level support from North Korea was not necessarily a surprise and a sign of long-term planning. It certainly added weight to the brief meeting. It was also interesting that there had been many rumors about the North Korean negotiating delegation about the dismissal or even the execution of important members, which have not yet been confirmed.

The most important question that now arises for the US is how to keep the pressure on North Korea at the same time, while still making progress on negotiations that are necessarily phased. One way would be to allow certain concessions as exemptions for South Korea, such as the resumption of operations in the joint Kaesong industrial district. It is unclear whether this will happen.
What is certain, however, is that it would be wrong to compare Trump's current symbolic politics with a hypothetical complete denuclearization through pressure from the entire world community including China: Rather, the real situation of the Korean peninsula, with a China that supports North Korea directly and indirectly, must be for Consider evading the regime's life-threatening sanctions. Then Trump's move is right and good. But it does not yet mean winning the game ... and the price of a Nobel Peace Prize, which Trump himself has repeatedly brought into play.

© 2021 Hanns Seidel Foundation