There’s no easy road map for getting Kim Jong Un to a nuclear deal. Joe Biden might as well use Donald Trump’s.
Moon has spent his political career seeking an “irreversible peace” with his northern rival and is in danger of watching it slip away in the final year of his presidency. He wants Biden to endorse the bare-bones “Singapore declaration” that Trump signed during his unprecedented meeting with Kim three years ago.
In it, Kim merely restated his longstanding policy by agreeing to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” So far he has taken no concrete steps toward scaling back his atomic arsenal.
In fact, he’s accelerated weapons development, rolling out a new missile in October believed capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads to all of continental U.S.
But the Singapore deal is the only one Biden has.
And there are signs the administration appears ready to concede that, as it continues to keep details of its new North Korean strategy close.
A senior U.S. official told reporters yesterday the president was looking to build on agreements made by the previous administration, including the Singapore statement.
That’s unlikely to be enough to restart talks. Kim remains bitter, burdened by United Nations sanctions and cloistered behind the borders of his isolated nation.
North Korea last year blew up a liaison office funded by Moon’s government and earlier this month accused Biden’s administration of girding for an “all-out showdown.”
The words were a warning that Kim could at any time return to North Korea’s preferred method of negotiation: weapons tests. — Brendan Scott
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Talking stability | Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov the U.S. seeks more “predictable” relations with Russia at their meeting last night on the sidelines of the Arctic Council in Iceland. Blinken raised issues including Ukraine, Syria and the jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny, according to the State Department. Lavrov called talks “constructive.” No date was set for a potential summit.
Winding down | Israel and Hamas appeared close to a cease-fire deal that would see fighting paused within two days, after Biden urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to de-escalate the conflict. It would unfold in stages, starting with the cessation of Israeli strikes on Hamas infrastructure, facilities and leaders while the Palestinian militant group would halt rocket attacks, the New York Times reported.
Climate risks | U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is pushing Group of Seven economies to impose mandatory reporting of environmental risks on their big companies. Under the proposals, Alex Morales, Alessandra Migliaccio and Alberto Nardelli write, the firms would report annually on their exposure to risks and opportunities presented by climate change.
The labor shortage that is hitting the U.S. as the nation rebounds from the pandemic is also coming to Europe, where it could prove even more difficult to fix, Alexander Weber explains.
Asia’s laggard | Snaking lines of people at Manila food banks have become a common sight as the Philippine economy struggles to recover from virus missteps. Over the last decade the country had managed to throw off its mantle as the “sick man” of Asia, with its 109-million strong population driving a consumption-led economy, but as Siegfrid Alegado and Andreo Calonzo write, all that is now at risk.
What to Watch
- The Shangri-La Dialogue, which usually draws top military officials and diplomats to Singapore and was set to be held in early June, was canceled today due to an increase in coronavirus cases in the city state.
- The Biden administration said stopping Nord Stream 2 is a long shot with the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany more than 90% complete and that it won’t sanction the company overseeing its construction.
- Republican leaders’ rejection of a Democratic plan to independently probe the deadly Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection highlights the grip Trump has on the party.
And finally … Nicolas Sarkozy is returning to a Paris courtroom for the second time in six months as judges scrutinize whether the former French president deliberately broke spending limits in his failed 2012 election campaign — one of a series of allegations of impropriety he’s faced since leaving office. As Gaspard Sebag explains, the case has become a symbol of the bitter infighting within the center-right party he once led.
— With assistance by Rosalind Mathieson, Anthony Halpin, and Gordon Bell