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President Trump has recently announced his plans to attend the scheduled Singapore Summit with leaders from North and South Korea. The President’s claim comes almost a week after he explained that the United States wouldn’t be attending the Summit. That announcement was made after an aggressive public statement by Pyongyang, one that gave the United States Pause. The opinions of the president this week appear to have changed regarding the ability of both nations to open dialogue again, and he is set to attend the Singapore summit on June 12.
The President’s confirmed willingness to once again attend talks with North Korea’s leader is a shift from last week, with the United States once again committed to the talks. In a statement at the White House, President Trump explained that “We’re doing very well in terms of the summit with North Korea…It’s moving along very nicely. So we’re looking at June 12th in Singapore. That hasn’t changed. So, we’ll see what happens.” While the United States attendance has been a pleasing development, President Moon Jae-In has acknowledged the difficulties both in the present and future, stating that “Even though they share the same resolve, there need to be discussions regarding the roadmap for how to make it happen, and that process could be tough.”
The Summit once again being put on the agenda of the United States is an important, but welcome, shift from last week. Because of the troubled history between both nations, the sudden cancellation and restarting of the Summit is something that has the potential to set a dangerous precedent for all the actors involved. While both states have been responsible for statements of aggression in recent history towards each-other, the summit will only be as successful as either nations ability to commit to it. Given this summit could hold the key to potential permanent denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, if the United States is to be able to hold any sway in talks with North Korea, they must choose to commit to the Summit.
The United States has often been involved in the ongoing talks between North and South Korea’s plans of dismantling the Nuclear Arsenal on the peninsula. This has lead to an agreement between both leaders to take the issue to the Singapore Summit on June 12, where the United States would talk with North Korea about permanent disarmament, and give both leaders the chance to meet in-person. However, last week, President Trump backed out of the talks after statements from Pyongyang that insulted Vice President Mike Pence. The insult did, however, come after Vice President Pence and national security advisor John Bolton hinted at using the Libya model for North Korea, a model that led to the Washington backed overthrow and killing of Moammar Gadhafi. The United States went on to claim that North Korea was just as ready to engage in Nuclear war as they were to meet at the negotiating table, which threw talks into jeopardy.
While the President’s reasons for initially pulling out of the Singapore Summit were somewhat understandable, they created more uncertainty on local and global scales. Due to the tenuous past relationship between North Korea and the United States, any sudden shift in approach or backing out could only succeed in reversing progress with the troubled nation further back to where it was before the start of the talks. If this trend of uncertainty continues it could also make the chance of any future meeting between them much more difficult and create a sense that the United states is unwilling to devote themselves to this issue. This, in turn, will place far more pressure on South Korea and make it more difficult to achieve the desired outcome of peace on the peninsula.