Trump-Kim summit needs to move from 'pageant' to 'progress': former U.S. diplomat
CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV Washington Bureau Chief Joy Malbon
Published Thursday, February 21, 2019 10:34PM EST
A prominent American ex-diplomat is hoping that real progress will finally be made when U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam next week for their second summit.
“Of course the actual substance of the first summit was slender,” Thomas M. Countryman told CTV News. “And it’s now important that this second summit starts a serious process of negotiations that have to happen below the level of the two leaders. This really is the last chance to move from a pageant, from a television spectacular, into a step-by-step negotiation towards progress."
Countryman, who served as America’s undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, is now the chair of the Washington, D.C.-based Arms Control Association, which describes itself as a “national nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies.” After joining the U.S. State Department in 1982, he held positions in embassies across the world and even advised former American UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright in 1990s.
North Korea’s long-term goals, Countryman said, are a formal peace treaty to end the Korean War and the normalization of relations with the rest of the world. More immediately, he added, the isolated nation is seeking to end economically crippling sanctions.
While Countryman thinks it would be premature for the U.S. and North Korea to reach final agreements on such issues next week, he does hope that the two countries start a process that would see North Korea publicly agreeing to dismantle its nuclear bomb-making facility and accept the presence of international inspectors. He also hopes that the summit leads to the U.S. issuing a “very strong statement” declaring that war in Korea, which ended with a 1953 armistice, is officially over.
“Because President Trump is psychologically incapable of admitting failure on any issue, no matter what happens in Hanoi, he will spin it as a success and the process will keep going,” Countryman added. “Whether it’s a credible process depends on whether or not they actually do some substance this time.”