10 March 2018
In just one week, South Korea has sent envoys to Pyongyang to confirm an inter-Korean summit as well as broker a historic meeting between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
But the euphoria has remained muted among experts around the region who, while welcoming the developments, remain guarded and warned of possible challenges ahead.
Dr Graham Ong-Webb, research fellow at the Singapore-based S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, warned of a “grand design” behind Pyongyang’s friendly overtures and nuclear about-turn.
“This current exercise by North Korea is aimed at shaping the optics of the situation in which Pyongyang renews itself as a peacemaker and Washington is positioned as the deal-breaker and the belligerent in the situation.”
This strategy, he said, would achieve two goals for Pyongyang – to ease current sanctions to give its people some temporary respite and to “build enough diplomatic cachet” for the last phase of its nuclear programme.
“We should expect North Korea to drag discussions over several meetings in addition to this first summit before all bets are called off,” he added.
GPO / IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 12/03/2018