U.S. President Donald Trump told his advisors that he did not want another summit with Kim Jung Un before the November presidential election, CNN reported Monday local time. President Trump has reportedly lost his appetite to engage on the issue as he focuses on his re-election campaign. A source from the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Tuesday the U.S. and North Korea are reading the situation, suggesting the possibility of the current standstill being prolonged.
President Trump’s recent remarks are just the latest in a series of evidence that shows his waning interest. He has not mentioned North Korea since late last year including in his State of Union speech, signaling his lack of interest in the issue and unwillingness to make a compromise especially as North Korea seems willing to continue with the stalemate. To be sure, no one can know how long his disinterest will last given his ability to identify opportunities when they come. This could only encourage North Korea to take risks to attract attention from the U.S. president.
It appears that the United States and North Korea are playing a wait game. Washington thinks Pyongyang will eventually give in feeling the pinch due to international sanctions while Pyongyang expects Washington to reach out with its growing nuclear capabilities. Left unresolved, such wait game can lead to an extreme conflict.
Against this backdrop, the inter-Korean relations have become nothing more than a dependent variable. In an attempt to thaw the relations between the United States and North Korea, the South Korean government is pushing inter-Korean initiatives such as the one that would allow South Korean citizens to travel to North Korea despite concerns expressed by the United States. Risking relations with Washington to allay Pyongyang, however, cannot be the solution. The South Korean government should know that such rush is what will render the nation helpless, ignored by North Korea and distrusted by the United States.