Trump–Kim Talks: Time to hold back military drills?
The Kim-Trump talks, as the media is calling it, is one of the most anticipated events that can have a significant impact on geo politics. Now that North Korea has shown willingness to hold talks with the United States and engage itself in the international matters, it would be a nice gesture if a similar response is shown from the other side. For a country which has remained in isolation for decades and continued with its defence programs without paying any heed to international reactions, this is a significant move.
What Kim Jong-un may or may not agree to during the talks is altogether a different issue, but Pyongyang has agreed to come out of a shell and that is something which needs to be appreciated. All efforts must be made to ensure that talks are held and North Korea is allowed to put forth its views.
So, given the situation, the military exercise which the US and South Korea are planning hold in the Korean peninsula next month can wait. If North Korea wants to engage in a meaningful dialogue, even the US and South Korea must show keenness on their part.
The large-scale exercises involving tens of thousands of ground troops are a perennial source of tension between the two Koreas, with Pyongyang condemning them as provocative rehearsals for an invasion of the North. The United States and South Korea announced on Tuesday (March 20) that their annual joint military drills would go ahead next month, with no significant downsize in scale.
The United States has close to 30,000 troops permanently stationed in South Korea. Following an extended period of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, the Winter Olympics provided the catalyst for a sudden and very rapid rapprochement that resulted in the announcements of the planned summits. Those announcements were made by the South Koreans, who have been orchestrating the diplomatic preparations and acting as the messenger between Washington and Pyongyang.
Foreign policy experts warned that the Trump administration needs to be fully engaged, with the president making the summit his top priority, if the White House has any reasonable expectation of success.
Kim is not expected to give up his nuclear weapons and it is unclear what Trump is willing to put on the table to persuade him.
Trump's administration is pushing ahead with plans for a summit before the end of May, but North Korea has yet to independently confirm it even extended an invitation to leadership talks -- maintaining a silence that has raised some concerns in Washington and Seoul. According to the South Korean envoy who met with Kim in Pyongyang, the North Korean leader also offered to consider abandoning his nuclear weapons in exchange for US security guarantees, and flagged a halt to all missile and nuclear tests while dialogue was underway, a PTI report said.
With all this uncertainties ahead of the talks, the best course of action would be to see what Kim has to say. All these missile and nuclear tests clearly show that there some amount of insecurity that North feels, so Pyongyang must be allowed to say what it has to. After that, the leaders may sit together and come up with a plan to de-escalate decades-long tension in the Korean region. For time being, it is better if South Korea and the US withhold planned military drill and make North Korea comfortable to come forward and talk.