FROM THE EDITOR
Whilst sceptics argued that the summit accomplished nothing, the very fact that it took place lowered anxieties in the Korean peninsula and provided an agenda for a way forward.On Sunday the 10th June, the United States’ Air Force One, ferrying President Donald Trump, landed at Singapore’s Peya Lebar Airbase at 8.20 PM for a summit with Kim Jong-Un, of North Korea. This followed weeks of uncertainties, cancellations and reinstatements. Eventually, the two men met on the 12th June at the Capella Hotel in Sentosa Island, initially for a one-on-one with interpreters followed by an enlarged, more formal bilateral session with other advisers. Whilst sceptics argued that the summit accomplished nothing, the very fact that it took place lowered anxieties in the Korean peninsula and provided an agenda of sorts for a way forward. When viewed from the lens of an escalating scenario and prospects of serious conflict, Mr Trump pulled off a coup.
Prior to the summit, Mr Kim had set certain pre-conditions in exchange for the dismantling of his nuclear assets. These included the removal of nuclear weapons from the vicinity of the Korean Peninsula, guarantees that the United States would not attack North Korea with conventional or nuclear weapons, converting the 1953 Armistice Agreement into a peace treaty and finally, the establishment of diplomatic ties between North Korea and America. The joint statement that followed contained a commitment by the two nations to build a new relationship based on peace and the de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. Subsequently, Mr Trump announced, to the dismay of the armed forces, the end of joint military exercises with South Korea.
The very fact that the summit took place and the two leaders talked to each other, rather than exchanged barbs, was an admirable start.Doubters would contend that North Korea has promised disarmament repeatedly for the past three decades only to renege unfailingly after accepting lavish compensation. It is also true that North Korea did not commit to a time-frame on when this would happen. Still, the very fact that the summit took place and the two leaders talked to each other, rather than exchanged barbs, was an admirable start. Most significantly, for now, conflict – a real possibility a few months ago – is out of reckoning. And then, there is the possibility however faint, that Mr Kim does really want to fix his country’s relations with the world, receive financial aid and reduce its thorough dependence on China. The very fact that he sat face to face with the President of the United States, on equal terms, sent a powerful message to the North Korean people reinforcing his formidable status at home.
America’s friends, Japan in particular, may arguably fret about its unilateral decisions, specifically the suspension of military exercises and the possible withdrawal of US troops from the region. This may push the Japanese government to pursue a more independent defence policy, something that goes against the grain of its pacifist constitution, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing for against insistent and entrenched domestic resistance. Oddly, therefore, a reduction in American troop numbers could help Mr Abe push reforms that would allow Japan to have a proper army and fight wars. China has expectedly blessed the joint declaration and would now drop sanctions against North Korea, essential to ensure the survival of the Kim regime.
It is hard to say how such things play out. In the best case, the summit may lead eventually to peace and trust in the Korean Peninsula. On the other hand, things may falter and bickering, followed by war mongering, may begin again. If Mr Trump’s gamble fails to pay off, it will change strategic imperatives within Japan and South Korea who may feel compelled to question their faith in future American commitments. Some wonder if Mr Trump has thought that far ahead; others gripe that he doesn’t care. But at the very least this initiative deserves a chance to play out before it is judged.
Adit Jain, Editor
Welcome to IMA India’s CFO Connect Magazine
FROM THE EDITOR
On Sunday the 10th June, the United States’ Air Force One, ferrying President Donald Trump, landed at Singapore’s Peya Lebar Airbase at 8.20 PM for a summit with Kim Jong-Un, of North Korea.
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