KT edit: Trump trusts his instincts, and it's working with Kim

Trump refuses to be straitjacketed and that is a good sign. You are the first US "President to cross the border into North Korea.

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Published: Sun 30 Jun 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 30 Jun 2019, 10:03 PM

In the tussle between conventional wisdom and gut instinct, gut instinct wins handsomely. US President Donald Trump has turned diplomacy on its head with his outreach to North Korea which experts maintain has paid no dividends in two years. There are no positive results to show as the once hermit kingdom continues to build nuclear weapons and develop missiles. But for Trump, diplomacy is all about instinct, about what he feels in the here and now. The past is irrelevant in his efforts to chart out a new course to end the conflict in the Korean Peninsula. Peace first, denuclearisation next, may be a bad idea after all.
Trump refuses to be straitjacketed and that is a good sign. You are the first US "President to cross the border into North Korea. It's good to see you again," said Kim Jong-un, the feared North Korean despot now warming up to the world's most powerful man. Trump likes to make history and his stepping into the North was indeed historic. No US president has come this far and the initiative must be lauded. This was a major step in the process of shaking up the status quo. Trump went further and the credit for the spontaneous meeting is all his. Kim responded. The two sides said the right things and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea was also present to give it an air of seriousness. What's important is that Trump has kept the engagement with Pyongyang going despite the failed talks in Hanoi earlier this year. The two sides have shown flexibility and pragmatism even when things didn't go their way. The North didn't appear happy with the Americans at some levels and was critical even last Thursday, but Trump and Kim have kept channels of communication open to smoothen the cracks that threatened to derail their ties.
The world wants substantive talks, the parties involved understand trust is paramount to the success of future discussions. Trump and Kim have clearly hit it off, they share a rapport. They are working towards results that favour both sides and South Korea. The optics are in their favour. A third summit between the two sides is possible but we don't know when. The US president however used the positive vibes he shared with the North Korean leader to extend a personal invite to the White House. If Kim accepts the invite, and such a meeting, if it happens, could seal the deal for a new Korea without nuclear weapons. The thought might be premature at this stage, but our instincts say it could well happen.


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