MOSCOW, May 22. /TASS/. US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un continue wheeling and dealing over a possible settlement aimed at resolving the Korean Peninsula issue, Director of the Russian Strategy for Asia Center of the Institute of Economics at Russia’s Academy of Sciences Georgy Toloraya told TASS on Tuesday.
"I think the main plot currently involves the United States and North Korea. "Washington raised the bar too high and got some stiff resistance from Pyongyang," he said. "Now some tough backstage bargaining is going on as to what shape the agreements might take," Toloraya explained. In his view, the North Koreans "have been pushing ahead."
"Pyongyang understands that there will be no cooperation with South Korea unless an agreement is made with the Americans," the expert continued. "The high-level meeting with Seoul, canceled last week over the South Korean-US joint military drills dubbed Max Thunder, would have been useless at least as far as basic issues go. The North Koreans delayed it but when the need arises, they will resume dialogue with the South, though currently they are teaching them and others a lesson," the expert noted.
Besides, in Toloraya’s words, "military exercises are just an excuse."
"What kind of democracy is that if, on the one hand, Pyongyang and Seoul try to speak about dialogue and cooperation but on the other hand, drills take place aimed at destroying North Korea. It is rather strange," he pointed out. "If you [South Korea and the US] agree to build dialogue then at least halt military drills for the period," he noted.
"We don’t know what is actually going on [in regard to the cancelled meeting between the North and the South and Trump’s consultations with his advisers on the feasibility of the Kim Jong-un meeting - TASS], what the positions are, how much they differ and how long it will take to bring the parties closer together so that the leaders can make a decision and each of them can declare his victory," Toloraya explained. "I hope that a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un does take place," he added.
The Russian expert speculated as to what turn the situation could take if Trump and Kim Jong-un finally met. "Trump would state that he did what other presidents were unable to do, particularly clinching an agreement that would ensure that North Korean missiles didn’t pose a threat to American cities anymore and Pyongyang started abandoning its weapons, though that might not be the whole truth," Toloraya said. "Meanwhile, Kim Jong-un would claim to have completed the objective set by his great ancestors and ended the war with America, making the US recognize defeat," he said.
"After that, dialogue will continue until the end of time," the expert said.
Trump said earlier on Twitter that he was going to meet with Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12 to discuss the prospects for the full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has departed for Washington to hold talks with his US counterpart and meet with high-ranking administration officials responsible for foreign policy and security issues.
According to the Yonhap News Agency, the US-North Korean summit in Singapore will go as planned despite new problems emerging on the Korean Peninsula. Seoul and Washington have been in close consultations on preparations for the meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un.