Kim's art of the deal should get Trump thinking

North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un wants to be taken seriously as a peacemaker, if not a statesman. His recent actions and statements point to a period of calm in the Korean Peninsula. He appears to be at ease while consolidating friendships with old allies and partners like China after reaching out to arch foes like the US and South Korea. Visuals from the North Korean leader's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping have shown him to be a man at ease with the subtle art of diplomacy. It may have been a tentative start but he soon grew comfortable in his role as a state dignitary during his first major meeting with the Chinese president in Beijing. Kim has, indeed, come out of his shell, or from the cold. Kim had his wife in tow, and China appeared to be grooming him for long-drawn negotiations with Uncle Sam when Kim will need all the grit and tact at his disposal. A coup of sorts, we'd like to call this train trip for both Pyongyang and Beijing, for it sets the stage for tougher talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April, and later with the big daddy of 'em all, US President Donald Trump, who shocked some and surprised others when he accepted the invitation to meet Kim face to face.
Beijing is also sending out a message that it holds the cards to enduring peace in the region. Nothing happens without the dragon's blessings, the emerging superpower in Asia, is the takeaway from the pleasant interaction between the two leaders. The Chinese side took pains to ensure Kim was given top billing and spared no effort to roll out the red carpet, with a state banquet thrown in for effect. Kim may have sought economic concessions from his mighty neighbour and China would have been happy to oblige for a seat at the negotiating table. Small giveaways for the spoils of peace. China is looking at the larger picture by softening up Kim in its effort to retain its clout in South East Asia, and may have stolen the thunder from the US with this show by giving the North Korean leader the credibility he craved for. Denuclearisation of the North Korea is on offer. At what cost? That's for President Trump to figure out.




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