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Trump’s China Play: Beware of Unrealistic Goals for North Korea Diplomacy

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced he will ‘suspend’ his nuclear and missile tests with immediate effect and will shut down his main nuclear testing site.

The announcement came one week before Kim is set to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in in advance of next month’s much-anticipated summit with President Trump.

However, there is still no clarity on what both sides actually want, and what the US is willing to do in the interests of regional and international peace. Thus far, both Trump and Moon have said that North Korea will “denuclearize,” but there is still no clear definition of what that term actually means.

“North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site,” Trump tweeted shortly after the announcement from Pyongyang. “This is very good news for North Korea and the World — big progress! Look forward to our Summit.”

Writer Daniel Larison from The American Conservative writes that if the U.S. and its allies aren’t prepared to make an “extraordinarily generous offer” to North Korea, it’s likely nothing good will come from the Trump and Kim summit –  a sign of unrealistic goals for diplomacy.

In addition, the Trump Administration is prosecuting a risky trade war with its number one global creditor, China. Certainly, any peace treaty between North and South Korea might be viewed as a precursor to unification on the peninsula – which would mean the US would have to exit its 70 year military-industrial cash cow and dollar sink in the DMZ. Will the hawks in DC really allow it? How will Chinese leader Xi Jin Ping react to Washington should Trump and his neoconservative advisors try to skew negotiations in order to gain a military or geopolitical advantage over Beijing?

Will these key elements hamper progress in the run-up to the upcoming summit?

Larison writes:

The U.S. and Japan released a joint statement calling on North Korea to give up not only its nuclear weapons, but also to abandon all “weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.” TAC contributor Harry Kazianis responded to the statement earlier today:

As the inter-Korean summit approaches and the Trump-Kim meeting draws closer, the gap between the U.S. and North Korean positions does not appear to have narrowed at all. If anything, the demands from the U.S. and Japan have increased and become even more unrealistic than they already were. Instead of moderating demands and tempering expectations about what North Korea is willing to give up, the Trump administration and the Abe government are doing just the opposite. This may succeed in reassuring Japan that the U.S. isn’t going to make a deal that Tokyo can’t accept, but it practically guarantees that no agreement can be reached with North Korea.

If Trump goes to the summit thinking that North Korea is going to agree to any of this, he has been misled and will be setting himself up for failure. If the U.S. and its allies aren’t prepared to make an extraordinarily generous offer in return, it is likely that nothing good will come from the meeting between Trump and Kim.

The danger is that the hard-liners around Trump will exploit a summit failure as an excuse to ratchet up tensions and push for military action and he will be more inclined to listen to them.

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READ MORE KOREA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire North Korea Files

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