June 10, 2020 10:12
South Korea's diplomacy with North Korea has gone back to square one, with Pyongyang furiously building up its weapons arsenal and refusing to engage in any way.
A U.K. think tank has pointed out that "much of the optimism that enveloped Korean Peninsula diplomacy at the start of 2019 has dissipated." The International Institute for Strategic Studies made the claim in an annual report on June 5.
"All the while, the specter of a U.S.-China cold war casts a lengthening shadow, one that seems destined to shape the future of diplomacy in relations to North Korea," the report adds.
Improving relations between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Chinese President Xi Jinping incapacitated South Korean President Moon Jae-in as a mediator. Inter-Korean dialogue lost all value to Kim as a direct communication channel was opened with the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea.
After his failed summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February 2019, Kim turned to Xi for both advice and economic support.
Seoul's increasingly frantic attempts to act as a go-between instead increased North Korea's distrust, and prompted the North to return to its traditional allies, China and Russia.
"Dialogue between Kim and [Moon] also stalled during 2019, mainly because Washington insisted that 'Seoul remain in lockstep with its maximum-pressure campaign,' thereby preventing Moon from advancing the cooperative measures that he and Kim had discussed in 2018," the report says.
It predicts that Moon will be unlikely to gain any traction with Pyongyang for the remainder of his single five-year term in office.
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