G20 meeting shows complex power games on NK challenge
The just-ended G20 meeting exposed the complex power games that blocked even an iota of consensus on North Korea's long-range missile and nuclear weapons threats.
Ironically, this is a lesson in point for President Moon Jae-in _ there is no quick fix for the North Korean challenge.
Rather, preventing it from getting worse should be a priority, which requires a good working relationship with the parties involved.
In that sense, Moon has taken a good first step.
With Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Moon agreed to resume "shuttle diplomacy" for frequent summits. The two confirmed their differences on Japan's wartime sex slavery.
With Russia's President Vladimir Putin, he shared mutual understanding about the peaceful resolution of the North Korean problem. Moscow objected to additional sanctions.
With China's Xi Jinping, he found ways of not focusing on their thorniest issue _ Seoul's decision to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, which Beijing views as an existential threat.
Moon also used the G20 platform to let his peace approach be known to the world, although with mixed results.
China and Russia thwarted the inclusion of North Korea's threat in a summit statement but hostess German Chancellor Angela Markel discussed it during a closed-door discussion among leaders.
On the sidelines of the multilateral summit, Moon had dinner with U.S. President Donald Trump and Abe and issued a strong condemnation against the North in connection with its last week test-firing of what it claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Despite the North's provocations, Moon also declared his proposal for an inter-Korean summit to discuss a peace treaty with a more practical package including family reunions.
He showed his sense of balance to rebut his critics who saw him as soft on the North, when he observed that Korea is at a most critical moment after the 1950-1953 Korean War during his summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
One key development in the Hamburg meeting is revelation of a multi-polar age that the world is entering. Previously, this multilateral meeting served as the showpiece of Pax Americana. Now, the U.S. has tumbled and joined the ranks of China, Russia, Europe and others.
For Moon, this is a challenge and at the same time a chance.
It is a challenge because Korea as a middle power should maintain its current alliance with the U.S., while putting no less importance on the promotion of relations with emerging powers such as China. If not adroitly handled, it could backfire.
It is a chance because the changing dynamics can provide Korea with a new bigger role in reshaping the world.
Moon can make a difference for the better.
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