Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 Apr 2018 08:47:58

AFTER years of tensions that had reached a dangerous pitch, the Korean Peninsula was witness to a new era of rapprochement when, on a historic Friday, North Korean leader Mr. Kim Jong-Un and South Korean President Mr. Moon Jae-in pledged for a permanent peace treaty and complete denuclearisation by signing the Panmunjom Declaration. The historic summit has symbolically launched an era of reconciliation, peace and prosperity between the two neighbours which have been technically engaged in a war since 1950. 

The historic handshake between the two Korean leaders has welled up an air of hope and optimism, hailed by world leaders, who were kept on tenterhooks by Mr. Jong-un for a considerably long tension-filled period with his penchant for firing ballistic missiles at will. With one hand on the Nuke button, North Korea kept playing the enfant terrible in the contemporary world where peace talks were taking precedence over punitive and retaliatory actions even against stubborn opponents. Mr. Jong-un even succeeded in raising the hackles of the United States, triggering a war (of tweets!) with US President Mr. Donald Trump.

As the two Korean leaders sought a detente, Mr. Trump was implicit in claiming the credit for “ending the Korean War”. Though the US President kept the pressure on North Korea demanding Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal, he cannot take the entire credit of the thaw between the two Koreas. The Chinese leadership, under President Xi Jinping, too, has played a good part in initiating the Panmunjom Summit. The peace talks were an output of realisation of self-interest by the two Koreas as well as Chinese and Korean togetherness.

A start has been made but the there is still a long road to travel before North Korea fulfills its promise of complete denuclearisation. International analysts have cautioned the world leaders not to take the pledge on its face value. Similar promises were made earlier too by North Korea but much remains to be done to resolve the issue of its atomic arsenal. A clear picture of intent will emerge when Mr. Kim Jong-un holds talks with Mr. Trump by the end of May. However, there are a lots of positives to be derived from the Korean summit. A start has been made and by setting a number of achievable, short-term goals like carrying out disarmament in a phased manner and cease all hostilities between the two nations, Mr. Jong-un and Mr. Moon have ensured momentum to drive forward the peace process.

Even as the two Koreas meet and try to thrash out their differences they have authentically ended the Korean War. What may prevail is only a few mutual anxieties, a product of mistrust which ruled their relations for last 66 years.
After these developments, the global diplomatic focus now will be on Asia in the next few years. Here, India has a very important role to play in all this process as it has also taken its own initiatives. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s informal talks with Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping also focus on working together for peace and harmony. It is now the fundamental duty of collective Asian leadership of various nations to ensure that Asia does not become a hotbed of international conflict but a cool place where conflicts are resolved. Two historical summits have floated a new hope -- of peace and togetherness.