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Goodwill of all is crucial for peninsula peace: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-05-16 21:45

The easing of tensions that has completely changed the picture on the Korean Peninsula has been hard won. It should not be taken for granted.

The good progress that has been made in getting the two sides talking has necessitated a softening of their previously bellicose stances. However, the rapport that has been forged is extremely vulnerable given the mistrust and suspicion that has festered over the years.

Yet this is a historic moment when the antagonism and mistrust fomented during the Cold War may finally be laid to rest. The possibility of direct talks between the leaders of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States — the first since the armistice agreement put an end to hostilities 65 years ago — should be cherished, not squandered.

Which is exactly what the US-ROK joint military exercises that began on Friday have risked doing. The drills are an annual event and no doubt require a degree of coordination and planning, but given the significance of the coming meeting between DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump, they could surely have been canceled or postponed.

In response, Pyongyang canceled high-level talks with Seoul hours before they were due to take place on Wednesday.

It was entirely predictable that it would do so, given how much it dislikes the provocative military maneuvers that simulate attacks on it, and its past responses to them.

These developments have poured cold water on the warming relations that were on display at the summit between Kim and his counterpart Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea on April 27, when the two Koreas agreed to complete denuclearization of the peninsula and the replacement of the current armistice agreement with a peace treaty.

What is even more disturbing is Pyongyang’s statement immediately after that Kim may cancel his meeting with Trump if the US pressures Pyongyang to unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons.

It is all very well for the White House to say it is carrying on with preparations for the Singapore summit on June 12, as that makes it look like it is Pyongyang that is spoiling the party.

However, unless Washington shows it is sincere about finally putting an end to the acrimony and animosity, the concerted efforts to nurture the precious potential for peace since the beginning of the year will not be rewarded.

Washington, Seoul and Pyongyang need to treasure what has been achieved, increase their communication, and try to overcome the mistrust and suspicions that stand in the way of a historic breakthrough.

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