The leadership in Seoul is determined to keep peace talks on track, and seems confident Trump will meet Kim in the near future. ——-North Korean leader Kim Jong Un abd South Korean President Moon Jae-in met on Saturday.KCNA via KNS / AFP – Getty Images.
BEIJING — South Korea is desperately trying to manage the diplomatic crisis between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in order to avert threatened American military action against North Korea.
Trump’s announcement Thursday that he was calling off the Singapore summit was followed by a flurry of reversed decisions and policy re-statements, rhetorical declarations both hostile and conciliatory, shuttle diplomacy by minor officials around the globe, high-profile meetings and low-key discussions.
The leadership in Seoul has been working around-the-clock to keep peace talks on track. On Saturday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un held a “surprise summit” reportedly requested by Pyongyang in the wake of Trump’s letter, aimed at demonstrating that the peace process was still on track and that denuclearization talks could continue to move forward.The neighboring Koreans technically remain at war after fighting ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty in 1953.
Moon and his allies are intent on acting as mediators between Pyongyang and Washington, expressing confidence that a meeting between Trump and Kim will happen soon.
“I am 99 percent certain the summit will take place,” said Kim Hong-gul, a political ally of Moon’s and the son of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who initiated his country’s first rapprochement with North Korea in 2000.
Kim Hong-gul is one of the few South Korean politicians who had met Kim Jong Un prior to last month’s Panmunjom summit, and has direct lines of communication with key North Korean leaders.
“I get the feeling that for Kim and Trump, neither side is willing to break the deal. Neither has the guts to do it,” Kim Hong-gul told NBC News. “They were just bluffing, very gently compared with the past, to save face because of domestic and international attention and pressure.”
In Trump’s case, this “bluffing” involves apocalyptic language which, in the context of a potential nuclear conflict, is alarming.
“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Trump wrote to Kim Jong Un in his letter announcing he was canceling the summit.