Meeting between Trump and Kim in jeopardy?
North Korea has threatened to cancel the meeting between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump, citing the US's "unilateral" demand for nuclear disarmament. Commentators don't believe Kim will really miss this opportunity for a historic meeting. But hopes for a breakthrough on June 12 are not high.
Kim wants more in return for compliance
With its threat North Korea is trying to push up the price for its nuclear weapons concessions, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung observes:
“The fact that with Donald Trump an American president has for the first time agreed to meet a North Korean leader may already be seen as a concession in Washington. For North Korea, however, which wants to be seen as a nuclear power in its own right, this isn't so clear. Moreover, until now the easing of American sanctions was up for debate. It's conceivable that the Americans could offer the Kim regime money and raw materials, as they have in the past. The idea would be to help get the impoverished country back on its feet economically, as an incentive for it to disarm. But this time, as we are now hearing from Pyongyang, apparently that is not enough.”
Not much will come of the meeting
The meeting between Trump and Kim won't fail but it won't bring a decisive breakthrough either, Handelsblatt predicts:
“It is unlikely that Kim Jong-un will really cancel the summit with US President Donald Trump. The meeting in Singapore offers an historical opportunity for North Korea's leader to meet an American president on an equal footing. But we shouldn't expect too much of it. Kim will never renounce nuclear weapons completely and for good. They're his life insurance. The deliberate escalation in reaction to the US military exercise is just a taste of what's to come. North Korea is ready to underpin its objectives using precisely applied pressure. It was a mistake for Trump to announce the cancellation of the nuclear deal with Iran. Now he lacks a model for the agreement with North Korea.”
A fragile dialogue
It's hard to tell whether the summit has any chance of success, Helsingin Sanomat concludes:
“North Korea is annoyed among other things because in its opinion the US is demanding unilateral nuclear disarmament. This narrow interpretation is practical: North Korea can torpedo the negotiations whenever it wants to simply by demanding that the US pulls out of the Korean Peninsula, which won't happen. It's entirely possible that this threat will only last a few days. Yet it's still difficult to tell how solid the basis for the current negotiations is. The only country that wields direct influence over North Korea is China. And nothing has become public about its activities behind the scenes.”
China more attractive for Pyongyang
Beijing's predominant role in this game of poker must not be forgotten, China expert Garrie van Pinxteren writes in NRC Handelsblad:
“China wants to integrate the country into Xi's master plan for the New Silk Road. ... The South Korean and Chinese plans could prove far more attractive for North Korea than America's - and the terms are less strict. It's unlikely that the US will be quick to drop the sanctions if North Korea is not just as quick to dismantle its nuclear arsenal completely and permanently. ... China and South Korea, moreover, are perhaps ready to negotiate independently of the US in exchange for relatively small concessions. That would take the pressure off Kim to agree to the American proposal for quick denuclearisation.”