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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Feb. 7)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 07:01 February 07, 2019

Hope for Vietnam talks
: Trump, Kim should achieve big deal for peace

U.S. President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that he will hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam, Feb. 27 and 28.

The highly anticipated announcement came during the State of the Union address where Trump lauded his "historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula," claiming there would have been a major war with North Korea if he had not been elected. While saying he has a good relationship with Kim, Trump admitted much work remains to be done.

Cheong Wa Dae showed high hopes for the second U.S.-North Korea summit amid the long deadlock in denuclearization talks. Presidential spokesman Kim Eui-gyeom said Wednesday that there could not be a better setting than Vietnam for the U.S. and North Korea to continue to make history as he mentioned the history of U.S.-Vietnam relations. "Vietnam used to be a foe, but now the two countries are friends," he said.

During his New Year speech, Kim expressed eagerness to meet with Trump again. Trump has also shown enthusiasm for another meeting with the North Korea leader despite rising criticism that their first meeting in Singapore in June 2018 lacked details on how to achieve North Korea's denuclearization.

Circumstances surrounding the summit are not entirely optimistic as the two countries have been unable to close their differences on nuclear disarmament.

Kim has focused on corresponding measures from the U.S. for the steps his country has made, such as the suspension of nuclear and missile tests and dismantling of some of its weapons sites. But the U.S. has emphasized more concrete steps. "We must have a complete understanding of the full extent of the North Korean weapons of mass destruction and missile programs through a comprehensive declaration," Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, said during a speech at Stanford University last week.

It should be noted that Biegun also mentioned that possibility of a contingency plan if the diplomatic process fails with North Korea. He also said Washington will not lift sanctions until denuclearization is complete.

At the same time, Biegun underlined Trump's resolve to "end this war."It remains to be seen whether there will be some kind of progress in the end-of-war declaration during the upcoming Trump-Kim meeting. Trump is also expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this month. It is urgent for Seoul to prepare for such a declaration.

Biegun arrived in Pyongyang Wednesday to settle details with North Korean negotiators for the second U.S.-North Korea summit. The two sides will hopefully be able to make a sufficient compromise for a big deal for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Kim should commit to an agreement that will assure the international community that he will give up his country's nuclear and missile programs.

The success of the Vietnam summit is crucial for the peace process that is being pushed by President Moon Jae-in. A deal for progress in denuclearization and improvement in bilateral relations will be pivotal in setting the right conditions for Kim's visit to Seoul.

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