Monday 21 October 2019

Trump deserves Nobel Prize, says South Korea president

U.S. President Donald Trump. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Chris Baynes in London

Donald Trump should win a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, South Korea's president has suggested.

Moon Jae-in said he was "confident a new era of peace will unfold on the Korean Peninsula" following a historic summit last week during which Seoul and Pyongyang pledged to end decades of hostilities and work towards "complete denuclearisation".

He has previously said the US president "deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks", which were the first between North and South Korea for more than a decade.

"President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace," the South Korean leader told a cabinet meeting yesterday, according to Seoul officials.

Mr Moon was greeted by a standing ovation from cheering aides and staff at the presidential Blue House after signing a peace accord with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Friday, when the two countries pledged to officially end the Korean War that began in 1950.

In the first small steps towards reconciliation, South Korea said yesterday it would remove loudspeakers that have blared propaganda across the border for decades, while Pyongyang is to shift its clocks to align with its southern neighbour.

End to hostilities: Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)
End to hostilities: Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)

South Korea turned off the loudspeakers, which have broadcast a mixture of news, Korean pop songs and criticism of the North Korean regime, as a goodwill gesture ahead of the summit. It will begin removing them today.

"We see this as the easiest first step to build military trust," said South Korean defence ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo, adding Seoul expected North Korea to follow suit.

North Korea will shift its time zone 30 minutes earlier to align with South Korea, starting on May 5, state media reported yesterday. KCNA said Mr Kim found it "a painful wrench" to see two clocks showing different times on a wall during Friday's summit in the "truce village" of Panmunjom.

The North's time zone was created in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese rule after World War II.

While Mr Moon lauded Mr Trump's role in bringing together the two nations, experts have been less fulsome. TJ Pempel, a professor at the University of California, said the US president "deserves some credit but not as much as he's taking". He said China's agreement to tougher sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear programme "was far more important".

Alison Evans, deputy head of the Asia-Pacific country risk desk at research firm IHS Markit, said: "Trump should receive minimal, if any, credit." The president's "high-pressure tactics only confirmed to North Korea that they were on the right course" developing nuclear weapons, she suggested.

Mr Trump had no qualms about taking credit for the US role, tweeting after Friday's summit: "KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!"

The peace declaration leaves many questions unanswered, however, particularly the meaning of "denuclearisation" and how it will be achieved.

Much hinges on Mr Kim's upcoming summit with Mr Trump, planned to take place in late May or early June.

Mr Trump said his administra-tion is considering holding a potential meeting with Mr Kim at the Demilitarised Zone marking the North's border with South Korea, or in other countries, including Singapore. (© Independent Service, ­London)

Irish Independent

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