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Editorial: US must draw on its wisdom to secure N. Korean denuclearization at summit

It has been decided that the first North Korea-U.S. summit in history will take place on June 12 in Singapore. Initially, the demilitarized zone in the village of Panmunjom dividing North Korea and South Korea had been floated as the most likely contender for the summit site, but it appears Singapore was chosen as a more neutral and safer site.

We hope the summit will, as U.S. President Donald Trump has said, "secure a future of peace and prosperity for the world."

President Trump will exchange ideas with the leaders of Japan and major European countries at the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Canada from June 8-9, before meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un the following week.

The North Korea-U.S. summit, which will focus primarily on North Korea's denuclearization, will have a great impact on the safety of East Asia. The Trump administration is looking to make the meeting a successful one that will give momentum to the ruling Republican Party ahead of midterm elections this fall. Trump likely thinks there's a possibility he will win the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, it is too difficult to prejudge the outcome of the bilateral summit. The U.S. is aiming for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID) of North Korea before President Trump runs for his second term in 2020, and is considering the overseas emigration of North Korean nuclear technology experts.

In contrast with the U.S., which has placed priority on North Korea's across-the-board disarmament in a short period of time, in a manner similar to Libya's disarmament, North Korea is expected to argue for phased denuclearization. It is predicted that in addition to a guarantee for the regime's continued existence, Pyongyang will ask for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea and a reduction in the United States' capacity to produce nuclear weapons, in order to prolong its discussions with Washington.

President Trump is optimistic, saying the upcoming summit "is going to be a big success." In coordination with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to North Korea, the latter released three U.S. citizens that had been detained. This, too, has created an ambience of optimism around the North Korea-U.S. summit.

Some observers have said, however, that it makes no sense for Trump to express his gratitude toward Kim for the release of Americans who had no reason to be taken into North Korean custody in the first place. This dramatic shift by Trump -- from calling Kim "little rocket man" to thanking the North Korean leader for undoing something that is said to have been unjustified -- has more than a few people concerned that Trump is getting ahead of himself.

We would like the bilateral summit to be a fruitful one that includes resolution of the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents, but the U.S. has a past of being betrayed by North Korea. To reach an agreement that is brilliant as political theater but in reality is filled with holes, overcome by an emphasis on reconciliation, will lead to serious problems in the future.

There is just a month left until the North Korea-U.S. summit. We call on the U.S. to rally the superpower's expertise and wisdom in order to abolish North Korea's nuclear weapons with complete certainty.

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