EDITORIAL COMMENT: US-North Korea pact a victory for world peace

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Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un

NORTH Korea has scored a major diplomatic coup after signing a historic and landmark agreement with the United States that could lead to lasting peace in the divided Korean Peninsula and avert a possible nuclear war. President Kim Jong Un will go down in history as the first leader of North Korea to have a face to face meeting with a sitting US President and extract far reaching concessions from the world’s only super power.

After yesterday’s meeting in Singapore, US President Donald Trump agreed to stop his country’s provocative war games (military exercises with South Korea) while Mr Kim pledged to destroy a missile testing site. Their agreement also included a commitment from Mr Kim to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.

Mr Trump termed the document “very important”, adding that he had formed a “very special bond” with Mr Kim and that the relationship between the US and North Korea would be very different. “People are going to be very impressed and people are going to be very happy and we are going to take care of a very dangerous problem for the world,” Mr Trump said.

The pair shook hands, held talks together and ate lunch accompanied by advisors, capping a remarkable turnaround for the two, who only last year were engaged in angry threats. Their agreement said the two countries would co-operate towards “new relations” while the US would provide “security guarantees” to North Korea.

On nuclear weapons, Mr Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”. Mr Trump said that Mr Kim had agreed to “verified” denuclearisation — a key US demand before the summit.

In brief comments to reporters, Mr Kim said: “The way to come to here was not easy. The old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward, but we overcame all of them and we are here today.”

The latest developments come after years of hostilities between the US and North Korea which date back to the Korean War (1950-53).

The US has tried, without success, to depose of successive North Korean leaders. Despite a barrage of punitive sanctions, overt and covert operations to destabilise the communist state, North Korea has withstood all manner of skullduggery thrown at it and today can proclaim victory as it stood toe to toe with its main adversary and asserted its demands. The agreement will hopefully lead to the removal of sanctions and allow North Korea to rejoin the community of nations and improve the lot of its people.

We hail the agreement as it will allow for peace to prevail in the region and possibly lead to the restoration of North Korea’s full rights as a sovereign nation. Just like Zimbabwe which was named among the so-called “Axis of Evil” which also included Iran, North Korea has suffered isolation, demonisation and economic strangulation.

This agreement, which it has signed on its own terms, will allow it to re-engage with the rest of the world and improve its economy. History has shown that no country can exist in isolation in this global village and President Kim must have realised this and put the welfare of his people ahead of a decades old quarrel with the US.

To his credit, President Trump — who is often described as eccentric, erratic, verbose, acerbic and unhinged, could have cemented his place on the world stage following the agreement. His actions could have been informed by a desire to see lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula and scale back US military spending in the region.

A joint communique issued after the meeting summed up the thinking on both sides of the divide: “The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity. The two countries will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018, Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.The US-DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified”.

The two countries also pledged to implement the stipulations in the joint statement fully and expeditiously and to hold follow-on negotiations, led by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the summit.
Presidents Trump and Kim also committed to co-operate for the development of new US-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world. We commend the two leaders for their pragmatism and foresight in promoting world peace.