2 Hours after the 13-second historic handshake between the 2 leaders they signed a Joint Statement that stated:
The United States and the DPRK committed to establishing new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to working towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
The text of the statement is not as strong as Bill Clinton got in November 1994, but nothing came of that agreement and nothing in the Joint Statement is as groundbreaking as President Trump made out in his press conference. However, the one positive is that it is a start and like eating an elephant, you have to do it one bite at a time.
President Trump’s post-summit press conference was interesting, he said some truisms and the most profound was, “The past does not have to define the future – our adversaries can become friends.” This is something politicians across the globe should listen to and in particular Sinn Fein and the DUP in Northern Ireland.
However, try as he might he had some veiled threats pointed at Chairman Kim when he said, “Chairman Kim has an incredible opportunity to seize…” and highlighted, “I had 300 sanctions, very big and very powerful ones, I didn’t apply last week as I thought it would be disrespectful….” Trying to suggest that he was leading the talks. Chairman Kim won’t like that.
What will Kim Jong Un like about the deal?
There are lots of things that Chairman Kim will like. He hasn’t actually made any new concessions. The suspension of joint exercises between the US military and South Korea has been a long-standing desire and he has been given that assurance, without the South Koreans having been informed apparently.
More importantly to Chairman Kim, he has been given legitimacy and it is based on his possession of Nuclear weapons. He will see the possession of his nuclear weapons as the reason he has been able to get the US President to come to meet him, the reason why he believes the world now sees him as being at the top table alongside President Trump.
President Donald Trump Motivation
So, what is Trump’s motivation? President Trump genuinely wants to be seen as a good guy, as someone who when he threatens another nation, they back down and he gets the glory.
He sees North Korea as an opportunity, an opportunity that may see the world moves closer to peace, an opportunity for him to grandstand on the world stage, an opportunity for him to continue his rhetoric against his predecessors, an opportunity to achieve something on the scale Obama did when he found and had Osama Bin Laden killed, an opportunity to have his ego stroked with the smell of a Nobel Prize. He is a bit like Muttley in ‘Chase the Pidgeon’ when offered a medal by Dick Dastardly (now I’m showing my age).
What does Chairman Kim want?
Legitimacy and an easing of sanctions so he can increase his wealth, he wants to be seen as an equal on the world stage. He has got most of that already! China and Russia are likely to increase sanction busting trade relatively quickly to ensure they remain in favour with Chairman Kim and in the knowledge that to preserve the negotiations, America will turn a blind eye.
He also wants to court increased favour with other like-minded world leaders. He admires Xi Jinping who he will see as a grandfatherly figure and is pleased with President Putin, after all as Trump stated Xi has been sanction busting already and Putin has put a fast internet connection into North Korea. The one thing he doesn’t want is to give up the very weapons that have put him on the world stage, but he knows he can string negotiations along, eking out concessions and he can hide technology whilst putting a show of destroying it on.
So, who are the other players and what do they want?
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea was elected on a promise of seeking Korean reunification. He wants peace on the peninsula and all Korean people to be free. He has been the warm-up act for Trump and has arguably contributed most to facilitate the current position and cooperation with Kim Jong Un.
Xi Jinping is next, he wants the US focus off his border region, he doesn’t want the prospect of a nuclear conflict near his borders and certainly doesn’t want a regional conflict of any kind as he is not ready yet. He wants the US military presence in the South China Seas area to decrease rather than the escalating presence with 3 carrier groups that has happened because of Kim Jon Un’s activities. Xi has developing ambitions around the Spratley and Paracel islands that he wants to be able to get on with quietly.
Xi Jinping wants to strengthen his hand in negotiating away any trade barriers with the US and wants his long-term plan to progress without interference. By positioning himself as a “Grandfather” figure to Kim Jong Un, keeping Chairman Kim sweet with trade, he can keep President Trump sweet with promises of keeping Chairman Kin in line. It is not by accident that Chairman Kim went to meet Xi Jinping twice before this meeting.
Then we have the final player. One not immediately associated with North Korea, but one who has been developing his relationship with Xi Jinping and with Kim Jong Un, but we don’t know why. He keeps popping up in many global scenarios and it is President Putin of Russia. Last year TransTelekom a major Russian telecommunications company that owns one of the world’s largest networks of fibre optic cables and is a full subsidiary of Russian national railway operator, Russian Railways who are owned by the Russian Federation put a fast internet connection into North Korea.
Around the same time, the North Koreans went from having a small nuclear capability with short-range missiles that failed more often than not, to have a hydrogen bomb capability with ICBMs that worked more often than not. None has explained how that technological advance happened so quickly in a country under strict international sanctions.
Meanwhile, in Beijing, Xi Jinping hailed ties with Russia as he held talks with President Putin who was on a state visit ahead of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with the Chinese leader calling Putin his “most intimate friend “and presenting him with the Friendship Medal. The dots start to join up!
New world order
We have a new world order developing – and it is those countries who can plan 20+ years out as they have predictable political conditions versus those countries tied to prime ministerial or presidential elections every 5 ish years. Add in a pinch, nay glug of ego with a sniff of Kompromat that may or may not exist and we have a recipe for changing political times.
The Alternative War espoused in JJ Patrick’s book of the same name has just taken on new dimensions. Donald Rumsfeld was so right when he said “you don’t know what you don’t know” and the reality is you can’t see it unless you open your eyes. So in the game of Top Trump, Kim trumped Donald but Xi and Vladimir are yet to play.
Note: Philip Ingram MBE, is a former British Army Intelligence Officer who has served in the Middle East and Cyprus and visited the Far East, having recently walked the path in Singapore the 2 world leaders took.