North and South Korea soon at peace?
The leaders of North and South Korea have committed to ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons and establishing terms for stable peace in the region. In addition, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged to close his country's nuclear test site in May. For some commentators the agreement is an encouraging prelude to further peace talks. Others warn that Kim cannot be trusted.
Time for optimism
The handshake between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in is a good sign, writes Magyar Hírlap approvingly:
“The fact that the meeting happened at all is a big step. The next big event will be the meeting between Kim and Trump - which took many by surprise in Washington when the American president announced it. Could it be that he has an instinct for realpolitik after all? China also helped because Beijing's foreign ministry immediately welcomed the news of the meeting. Beijing believes that bold political decisions are just as important now as self-restraint. ... Trump talked the next day with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom Kim visited two weeks later. After his visit the North Korean leader displayed even more willingness to negotiate. This inspires confidence and we can only hope that the process isn't disrupted again.”
Prelude to the Trump-Kim summit
The meeting in the Demilitarized Zone was above all a symbolic encounter to demonstrate the spirit of détente in the Korea crisis, Vedomosti writes:
“The talks between the two Korean heads of state are an interim step on the path to the upcoming summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, at which key questions regarding an agreement between the US and North Korea will be discussed. The historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea are meant to demonstrate to the world that there has been a breakthrough in relations between the two states and the search for a solution to the nuclear dispute. ... Further success depends on the concessions the two are willing to make. The vagueness of the wording, however, leaves room for both sides to cast the results as their own victory.”
Please don't disturb the peace process!
The peace process between South and North Korea can only succeed if Beijing and Washington stay out of it, Večernji list warns:
“Only if the US and China leave the two states alone and allow the process to develop without interference will the latter be able to unite. Then the new [united] country would become a superpower, combining the amazing technological advancement of the South with the endless natural resources of the North. Then there's the enormous tourism potential. But it's unrealistic to expect that the US and China will allow this. A Twitter storm from Trump and somewhat quieter tweets from Xi Jinping could disrupt the sensitive process overnight.”
Pyromaniac Kim pretending to be a firefighter
ABC, by contrast, warns that we shouldn't be deceived by the encouraging pictures coming from the summit:
“Even in this almost euphoric moment we must not forget the naked truth: Kim Jong-un is a bloodthirsty dictator who keeps his citizens in a state of intolerable prostration and who shouldn't be rewarded for helping to resolve a crisis he himself created. The Kim Jong-un who made multiple dramatic gestures on the border between the two Koreas a few days ago and promised to give up his nuclear weapons - if he really has any - is nothing but a pyromaniac disguised as a benevolent firefighter, no doubt because his regime is on the verge of bankruptcy.”
Pyongyang playing foul
The daily paper Kaleva also doubts the honesty of the North Korean leadership:
“The concord achieved by North and South Korea is a welcome development. But there is still a long way to go before they reach their goal, and obstacles could arise during the peace process. ... Up to now North Korea has always regarded its nuclear weapons as a guarantee of its continued existence. A North Korea with nuclear arms is a power fact the significance of which cannot be ignored. So we can assume that a lot will have to happen before North Korea gives up its main guarantee of security. According to Chinese sources North Korea's nuclear testing grounds are damaged so Kim can wave the flag of peace and promise to give up the nuclear weapons without worrying.”
Failure could have disastrous consequences
North Korea's leader Kim is putting on a show of peace to get rid of the sanctions imposed on his country, Die Presse suspects - and warns of the consequences should the talks fail:
“The North Korean negotiation calculation is obvious. Kim will at best offer to freeze his Nuclear and missile programmes, but then set unrealizable terms for concrete steps in nuclear disarmament. Whether Trump agrees to the North Korean offer remains to be seen. However if the negotiations fail the situation could very well escalate. The world has already experienced one such backlash: after the failure of the poorly prepared Camp David Middle East peace talks in 2000. In the case of North Korea the consequences could be disastrous.”