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US-North Korea summits

  Mar 12, 2020

US-North Korea summits

How did talks begin?

After months of escalating mutual threats, in 2018 Mr Kim said he was "open to dialogue". Mr Trump accepted, ignoring past pre-talk conditions that North Korea denuclearise first. 

On 12 June 2018, Mr Trump became the first sitting president to meet a North Korean leader. In Singapore. The two signed an agreement committing to the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" but with no detail on what that meant. 

When and where was the second summit and held? What was the outcome?

On 28 February 2019, the two met for second summit in Hanoi but talks broke down over North Korea demanding sanctions relief. There has been little progress. The US wants North Korea to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons while Pyongyang wants a step-by-step approach to ease the crippling sanctions regime. 

Where was the third informal summit held?

On 30 June 2019, Kim Jong-un again met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Korean Demilitarized Zone with Trump being the first sitting US president to set foot on North Korean soil, shaking hands warmly and expressing hope for peace. Kim and Trump then joined South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in for a brief chat, marking an unprecedented three-way gathering. The two leaders agreed to restart negotiations for the Korean denuclearization process.

What does Trump want from the summits?

Trump wants to mainstream NK. He wants NK to give up nuclear bombs in return for economic and energy help and integration into the world. He also wants to wean away NK from the orbit of China and Russia.  

What does Kim want?

Kim Jong Un wants sanctions to be lifted. He wants US troops to leave South Korea. He also likes economic growth like South Korea for which global investments and trade are crucial. He relishes the fat that he is on the high international table with USA. 

How does China see the summits?

China sees the US attempts to normalize its relation with North Korea as an attempt to weak North Korea away from China. But Chinese influence as the security provider and biggest trading partner is very strong.

Why did North Korea develop nuclear weapons? 

The Korean peninsula was divided after World War Two and the North developed an authoritarian form of government. 

Isolated globally, it saw nuclear weapons as its only deterrent against a world it believed was seeking to destroy it.

Could it carry out a nuclear attack?

Probably. North Korea has carried out six nuclear tests. 

It claims, though this remains unverified, to have developed a nuclear bomb that is small enough to go on a long-range missile. It also has a ballistic missile that experts believe could reach the US.

Can we expect viable outcome like denuclearization of Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)?

That is the best case scenario. But it depends on what DPRK is offered in return. But the experience of Iran is a dampner for DPRK. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal was spearheaded by Obama but Trump withdrew from it unilaterally and resubjected Iran to sanctions. DPRK may be apprehensive that giving up nuclear weapons would mean greater vulnerability to global pressure under the USA. The deal may not be respected in future. 

Why does India have good relation with North Korea and what does India seek to gain?

India and North Korea have trade and diplomatic relations. India maintains an embassy in Pyongyang, and North Korea has an embassy in New Delhi.

India is one of North Korea's biggest trade partners and a major food aid provider. 

However, India is a critic of North Korea's nuclear proliferation record and has also voiced concerns of denuclearization and disarmament in the Korean peninsula. India has repeatedly condemned North Korean nuclear tests and views its nuclear programme as a threat to regional security.

Tensions have spiked on the Korean Peninsula in the past few years, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's regime threatening the stability of the region with nuclear and ballistic missile tests. India wants to bring Pyongyang closer to the international community.

India-North Korea ties are a legacy from India's non-aligned status during the Cold War.

India is North Korea's second-biggest trade partner among all other countries who maintain trade relations with the communist state. India makes up about 3.5 percent ($97 million, €83 million) of North Korea's exports and 3.1 percent ($97 million) of its imports, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Observatory of Economic Complexity.

Union Minister VK Singh recently visited NK in 2018.

India has been demanding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula since the 1990s. India has also been raising concerns about the nuclear proliferation network that Pakistan and North Korea are allegedly part of.

Singh's North Korea visit was a signal from India to the international community that it is a major stakeholder in the Asian security architecture and that it will not sit on the sidelines of major world events.