The pace of diplomatic activity to end the Korean crisis has intensified with a South Korean delegation delivering to US President Trump an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a summit meeting to be held before May.
Trump appears to have accepted the invitation
Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2018
Whilst this an important development, it is important to stress that what Kim Jong-un discussed with the South Korean delegation which recently visited Pyongyang was not a unilateral abandonment by North Korea of its ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.
Rather Kim Jong-un reiterated the longstanding North Korean and Chinese demand for a total denuclearisation of the entire Korean Peninsula.
That would ultimately involve removing US nuclear weapons and US forces from South Korea.
It has been US unwillingness to act on this North Korean and Chinese demand, and to give North Korea the security guarantees it has been seeking, which have been the sticking point which has caused the whole crisis.
It is not certain that Donald Trump understands this. His tweet (above) suggests that he does not, in which case he may find negotiations with the North Koreans tougher than he currently expects.
Nonetheless the agreement for a summit meeting between the US and North Korean leaders, coming shortly after the announcement of the planned summit meeting between Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April, is a potential breakthrough.
It would incidentally mark the first occasion that a serving US President has met with a North Korean leader.
Lastly, the effect on President Trump’s domestic political fortunes of a successful breakthrough in the Korean conflict should not be underestimated.
A successful summit with Kim Jong-un could finally establish Donald Trump as an effective President in advance of the November Congressional elections.