Inter-Korean dialogue widely applauded

BY APD NEWSJan 12,2018 at 15:00

The resumed direct communication and dialogue between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and South Korea have been widely applauded and supported by world leaders though they think more efforts are still needed.

The DPRK and South Korea on Tuesday held an inter-governmental dialogue at the truce village of Panmunjom in the highly militarized zone dividing the peninsula, the first of its kind in about two years.

Positive atmosphere

Chinese President Xi Jinping had a phone conversation on Thursday with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in to talk about the Korean Peninsula issue and bilateral relations.

Xi said China supports the two sides in promoting inter-Korean dialogue and exchanges to gradually advance the settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue.

China has always supported the improvement of relations between South Korea and the DPRK, as well as their reconciliation and cooperation, Xi told Moon.

In the new year, China is willing to work with South Korea to boost strategic communication, promote practical cooperation, properly address sensitive issues, strive for greater achievements in bilateral relations, and jointly promote regional peace and stability, Xi said.

On the same day, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the United States and the DPRK were directly concerned parties on the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue, stressing that China hoped the two countries would move in same direction and "take a meaningful step" on dialogue and contact.

The remarks came after a telephone conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and Moon on Wednesday, in which Trump said he would be open to talks at an appropriate time and under the right situation if the DPRK wanted them.

International attention

In another development, French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday held talks with Trump via telephone, in which they discussed issues related to Iran and the DPRK.

Macron hailed the recent inter-Korean talks as "a positive signal," adding that "the continuation of the firm policy of the United Nations Security Council will bring about a political solution and move towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

The rotating president of the UN Security Council Kairat Umarov said one day after the inter-Korean high-level talks that "members of the council noted that such initial dialogue between the two Korean states can open possibilities for confidence and trust building on the Korean Peninsula, to reduce tensions and drive toward de-nuclearization."

However, he stressed that despite the positive development, the Security Council would not budge on sanctions against the DPRK for its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs.

Cautious optimism

Troy Stangarone, senior director at the Korea Economic Institute, a Washington-based non-profit policy research institution, believes that "it's unrealistic to expect them (Pyongyang and Seoul) to achieve too much given the events of the last few years. If they can help to reduce tensions and spur on a successful Olympics, they will have been successful."

On direct talks between Trump and DPRK top leader Kim Jong Un, U.S. experts agreed that the prospect seems slim in the near future.

"President Trump has alternated between expressing a willingness to talk with Kim Jong Un to suggesting that talks are a waste of time," Stangarone said, adding: "A presidential conversation with Kim Jong Un is not something to be undertaken lightly."

"Going forward, it is critical that U.S. policymakers and strategists recognize that the two Koreas' future is theirs to write," U.S. famed expert on the DPRK affairs John Delury wrote in an article.

Delury argued that instead of issuing condescending warnings to Seoul, Washington would do well to support Moon's initiative, stay in close coordination with him, and even hope to gain insights from direct engagement with the DPRK counterparts.


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