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At this point, both sides are willing to continue the dialogue at lower levels. This perhaps will have a positive affect by transforming this relationship away from the personal relationship between Chairman Kim and President Trump.

Lawrence C. Reardon is the associated professor of Political Science in University of New Hampshire. His research field is focoused on China foreign relations and country's domestic policy.

Below is his interview with ILNA regarding Trump- Kim summit in Hanoi:

ILNA: The Hanoi Summit did not turn out the way many expected. Do you think we can call it a total failure?

It wasn’t a total failure. To date, we have not returned to the bad days of North Korean missile and nuclear testing and US saber rattling.  President Trump continues to praise Kim Jong un, including making a very controversial comment supporting Kim’s role in the ultimate death of the US college student Otto Warmbier.  It will be interesting to see whether the North Koreans use the Hanoi meeting to attack Trump…but that hasn’t happened so far.  So just days after the meeting “failure,” we remain a status quo first established in June 2018 Singapore Summit.

ILNA: What’s next for North Korea-U.S relation? Are we going to witness increasing of tensions between these two countries?

At this point, both sides are willing to continue the dialogue at lower levels.  This perhaps will have a positive affect by transforming this relationship away from the personal relationship between Chairman Kim and President Trump.  Instead, they can establish the building blocks of diplomacy at the lower levels that could have prevented such an abrupt ending. 

Perhaps in two years, a new US president might readopt the multilateral approach to North Korea. It is doubtful that President Trump would revive the six-party talks as he has such confidence in his diplomatic skills. 

Still regional Asian countries remain important, especially China.  During his return trip to North Korea, it will be interesting to see if Kim stops off in Beijing to have discussions with President Xi Jinping. And Japan’s PM Abe continues to court Trump and US support, including Abe’s nomination of Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize.  This was purely a move to please Trump.

ILNA: What could countries like South Korea do to maintain a balanced relationship with Pyongyang after Hanoi summit?

President Moon Jae-in is following in his mentor President Roh Moo-hyun’s footsteps of reviving the “Sunshine Policy” of strengthening economic and cultural interactions with North Korea. I assume that the South Koreans will continue to discuss expanding previous initiatives, like taking concrete measures to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Region on the North-South border region. 

ILNA: North Korea recently said it had offered to dismantle its Yongbyon nuclear plant in exchange for partial sanctions relief at Kim Jong Un’s summit with Donald Trump. Do you think it’s true to say the summit ended with no result because one side was asking too much? 

Yongbyon has a long history.  I assume the DPRK is willing to dismantle it as they have better and newer facilities elsewhere, which are more secure. 

Both sides disagree on the cause for the sudden termination of the talks.  I frankly don’t think there was ever much of a chance of success.  President Trump’s expectations announced publicly to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program has been unrealistic from the beginning.  This is North Korea’s primary source of influence over the Security Council, including the Russians and Chinese.  Why would Kim give it up? 

Trump desired a foreign policy “win” to demonstrate his bona fides as a “master negotiator” and to offset the Cohen hearings in the US House of Representatives.  Yet, there were too many hawkish political advisors within his administration who would have quit if he had allowed this partial deal to go through. 

 

Interview by: Kamran Baradaran

 

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