National Commentaries

The optimism is palpable despite whiffs of concern. Many who had long been saying that North Korea only needed to be reassured to become a reliable diplomatic partner with willingness to abandon its threats and proceed to denuclearization in stages now feel vindicated. Instead of being some sort of madman, Kim Jong-un proved to be a savvy practitioner of diplomacy. The mood in Moscow, Beijing, and progressive circles is hopeful, but there are at least three caveats. One, the United States, particularly its enigmatic president Donald Trump, cannot be trusted to stick to a script of balanced diplomacy. Another reservation is that the national interests of the countries bordering the Korean Peninsula will not be adequately considered, which suggests distrust not only of Washington but also of Seoul and Pyongyang. Finally, there is the argument that the crisis over North Korea or, as many prefer to say, the Korean Peninsula, is really a symptom of a bigger problem: the absence in Northeast Asia of an inclusive security framework. Thus, the high-level diplomacy in the spring of 2018 is not criticized as such, but its limitations are highlighted with insistence that multilateral talks are obligatory for lasting resolution of the most fundamental causes of the crisis that has lingered since the Korean War.

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