The Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un summit in Vietnam has been much talked about, but it remains to be seen whether the US president can persuade the North Korean leader to give up his nuclear arsenal — or at least scale it back — in return for economic and diplomatic rewards. Trump also need to show North Korea how it can follow in the footsteps of Vietnam, and achieve economic reforms.
Days ahead of the summit, Donald Trump said he was in no hurry to achieve denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. Ahead of the summit, on Wednesday, he again tweeted an "AWESOME" future for North Korea if his "friend" agrees to give up his nuclear arsenal. Hours before the high-stakes dinner, Trump again said that he was not walking back on US' demands for North Korea's denuclearisation.
According to Foreign Policy magazine, a series of reports have indicated little progress on elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons in advance of the Hanoi meeting. This concern was raised even as US has been willing to engage with North Korea along the lines of the Sunshine Policy: the approach embraced by progressive South Korean leaders from Kim Dae-jung to Moon Jae-in.
The idea, the report states, is a simple one: "Hostility causes Kim to cling to his nuclear weapons, as the cold wind makes people pull their coats more tightly around themselves. But the warm sun can cause those same people to willingly abandon their coats. The idea is that the same approach might cause Kim to abandon his nuclear weapons, or at least his hostility to his neighbors".
But with North Korea hit heavily by food shortages and burdened by international sanctions over its nuclear programme, what the country now needs most is to shift focus to its economic development. Speaking to Al Jazeera, Kab-Woo Ko, a political science professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, earlier said how Pyongyang "needs to secure economic, political and diplomatic benefits from this summit".
What North Korea can learn from Vietnam?
Both North Korea and Vietnam are two of the world's last remaining communist regimes. But unlike North Korea, Vietnam learned long ago to make its mark on the world map through economic reforms. In 1986, Vietnam launched its free-market reforms, similar to that of China. It is called the Doi Moi, meaning renovation, and the intent was to transform its centrally-planned economy to a market-oriented system in order to compete effectively in the international arena.
From being one of the poorest countries in the world, Vietnam now has a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 6.88 percent (in 2018) which was double the 3.40 percent GDP growth rate of the US in the same year.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo made a similar point when he visited Hanoi in July 2018 after two days of talks in North Korea. "The leaders of Vietnam realised their country could reform, it could open up and build relationships without threatening the country's sovereignty, its independence, and its form of government," he said in a speech to Hanoi's business community. "I have a message for Chairman Kim Jong-un: President Trump believes your country can replicate this path. It's yours if you'll seize the moment."
The world is watching and waiting for any concrete outcomes.
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Updated Date: Feb 27, 2019 19:47:15 IST