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Tuesday’s summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un is a very positive development. At a time of escalating militarisation and increasingly dangerous policy developments – the US’s new nuclear posture review and recent strategic defence review to name but two – an outbreak of dialogue in an exceptionally tense region is a welcome step.
Commentators are eager to say that the summit statement is nothing new, but the key is that it has taken place. Just months ago we were looking at the possibility of nuclear war. Today the world has pulled back from the brink. Only cynics would think that a negligible achievement.
This is the first meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader. Negotiations were under way for such a meeting in the late 1990s – indeed US secretary of state Madeleine Albright held talks with Kim Jong-il in 2000, to prepare for him to meet with President Clinton. These positive initiatives were completely derailed by the arrival on the scene of President Bush in 2001 who promptly named North Korea part of the Axis of Evil.