United States civil rights activist leader Martin Luther King Jnr once said: “We are not the makers of history, we are made by history.” Today is such a day as the international community witnesses history in the making, as the historical Inter-Korea Summit kicks off in South Korea.
It was unthinkable a few months ago that a meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-Un could take place, but they are meeting under the banner: “Peace, a new start” and “From an icon of division to an icon of peace.”
The historic summit comes after delicate moments that made the whole world fear the Korean Peninsula was teetering on the brink of a major conflict, with some analysts asserting the frequency at which the North Korean leader was testing nuclear weapons, was a recipe for disaster. The escalating crisis was untenable.
Today’s summit is not the first between the two Koreas, but it is the first such meeting the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un, who assumed office after his father’s death in December 2011, is dialoguing with President Moon who came to power in May 2017.
At the centre of it all are superpowers that include the United States, China and Russia.
However, when the two Koreas started dialogue about the North Korean team participating in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, we gave a thumbs-up to diplomacy, although there was still a lot of scepticism on whether this would be sustained. But with the assistance of the international community and shuttle diplomacy, we witnessed more encouraging events taking place.
Apart from the Winter Olympics, the high level talks between officials of both countries started taking place. We also noticed that despite the overt threats, the language between the North Korean leader and US president Donald Trump was warming up, this, after the latter had threatened to “wipe out” North Korea at the United Nations last year.
It also came as a surprise when Kim Jong-Un “paid an unofficial visit to China” from March 25 to 28 where he held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Russia was also part of the loop to the successful dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang.
If today’s summit is successful, Kim Jong-Un is expected to have a face-to-face meeting with Trump next month and/or early June. Trump a few days ago described Mr Kim as “very honourable”, because the North Korean leader has given assurances that he will work towards “denuclearising.”
Pope Francis said; “This summit will be a favourable opportunity to initiate a transparent dialogue leading to reconciliation and union, in order to guarantee peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the entire world . . . (T)he Vatican supports and encourages all useful and earnest endeavours to build a better future through meetings and friendship.”
Thus today’s meeting is not a result of efforts from these two leaders alone, but the entire international community through the United Nations.
The big message about the Inter-Korea summit is no different to Zimbabwe’s opening up to the international community under the new dispensation. It is an “international public good” that sees “intractable conflicts being resolved in international relations”. It is a hopeful message that demonstrates that reconciliation is possible in world affairs.
If the Inter-Korea Summit succeeds, and the North Korean leader also meets with Japanese premier Shinzo Abe before he eventually meets with Trump, this would be a major success for global peace. All stakeholders, not just the North Korean leader, have a major role to play to ensure that this peace translates to a new beginning. It is premature to make unsubstantiated claims that the North Korean leader might not keep his end of the bargain.
History has shown us that the US leader shifts positions when it comes to major global issues, climate change and the Iran nuclear deal being most stark cases.
We must cautiously remind one another about the importance of unity as King David says in Psalm 133:1; “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”