Experts: Summit should clarify North Korea’s commitment to denuclearization

GOYANG, South Korea, April 26 (UPI) — Experts expect the Inter-Korean Summit on Friday to produce agreements aimed at peaceful coexistence of North and South Korea — possibly even a peace treaty. But laying the groundwork for denuclearization is the top priority.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has conveyed his willingness to dismantle his nukes to South Korean presidential envoys, as well as American officials over the past two months. Experts said a direct confirmation made during Friday’s talks or in the joint agreement of his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in will be more meaningful.

“The first agenda is denuclearization, so some kind of clarification is needed. I say clarification because we heard that [Kim’s commitment to deuclearization] but indirectly. We just read his lips,” Kim Tae-hwan, a professor at the Korea National Diplomacy Academy, told UPI.

The best scenario would be a statement emphasizing denuclearization, especially in a complete and verifiable manner, or at least the North’s intention to denuclearize within a short time frame, said Lee Geun, a professor at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of International Studies, speaking in a session with media on Thursday. “But I think North Korea would suggest its own denuclearization plan with some conditions. I think those conditions are the things that matter.”

Many expect the issue of denuclearization to be fully addressed and negotiated by U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim in the coming weeks, with the Inter-Korean Summit laying the groundwork.

The meeting between Moon and Kim is more likely to see agreements on peace and improving cross-border relations, said John Delury, member of National Committee on North Korea.

“That’s where two Koreas own it a lot more and they already have a lot of agreements they can easily reaffirm, and they can add a twist to that,” he said, suggesting a peace declaration may be adopted.

Many anticipate an agreement between the two Koreas to end their state of war, or a declaration of peace.

The South and North are technically still at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice treaty, instead of a peace treaty between the two sides.

Seoul officials have said in recent weeks that a peace treaty must be established to create a framework for peaceful coexistence.

Significant ways to promote trust and peace between the two Koreas would require ways to defuse military tensions between the two sides, as well as increase contact and exchange, according to analysts.

“There are also talks of holding meetings of war-separated families on a regular basis. Another thing is establishing communication offices on each side of the border,” said Connyoung Jennifer Moon, chief editor of Arirang News, who moderated the session of analysts at the summit press center.

It may be hard to forecast what Moon and Kim will agree on, or whether the agreements would be far-reaching, but there’s some optimism that the two leaders have substantial time to make meaningful progress in inter-Korean relations.

“The fact that the summit is taking place in the early years of Moon’s presidential term is significant,” Yang Moo-jin, professor of University of North Korean Studies said.

Previous inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007 took place toward the end of former South Korean Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, meaning their North Korea policies could be overturned by subsequent administrations.

“Moon and Kim have all the authority to make decisions on resolving issues on the Korean Peninsula. It also guarantees the continuity in terms of execution,” Yang said.

The leaders will meet at the Panmunjom border village at 9:30 a.m. local time on Friday, marking the first inter-Korean summit to take place in more than a decade.