Today, delegations from both Koreas will meet to discuss North Korea sending athletes to next month’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The first governmental meeting between the neighbours in two years represents a breakthrough for Seoul, where President Moon Jae-in has been pressing for de-escalation since he came to power last May. A phone hotline between the two countries has also been restored.
While some, like US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, are hopeful that the meeting will serve as a stepping stone to denuclearisation negotiations, others believe that the meeting will merely buy Kim Jong-un time to further develop weapons capabilities.
The meeting won’t address Pyongyang’s nuclear program but represents a win for Mr Moon’s sunshine policy approach. Seoul must next convince Washington that the Moon approach is worthwhile; last week’s agreement to postpone military exercises until after the Olympics represents progress on this front. Without US support, South Korea’s progressive president risks another “appeasement” rift with Mr Trump, a wedge that would suit Mr Kim’s interests.
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John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.