Good letter in Today’s Sydney Morning Herald 26/3/2018

Playing the right cards
Kim Beazley says Trump agreeing to meet Kim Jong-un is sacrificing a “crucial US playing card”, for which Trump gets no return (“Not even Bolton knows what Trump will do next”, March 24-25). What he should have done, asserts Beazley, would have been to negotiate a clear process to. denuclearise the peninsula first. As it stands, says Beazley, the summit meeting, set for May, was for the North a “near costless concession”.
On the contrary, what has continually frustrated any meaningful dialogue in the past has been Washington’s refusal to sit down with Pyongyang without preconditions. It has insisted that North Korea must disarm first or at least begin such a process. But that would have left the North with no bargaining chips. What Kim Jong-un plainly wants is a peace treaty and a guarantee from Washington that it will no longer countenance invasion or regime change. If the guarantees are strong enough, North Korea may agree to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.
South Korea lives in hope of such an outcome. It and other concerned countries also hope that despite gutting the State Department OF Korean expertise, Trump may have sufficiently knowledgeable advisors to steer an intelligent course in May. Both the new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and new National Security Advisor, John Bolton, are scathing about the value of direct talks and may derail Trump’s resolution to meet Kim. We can only hope that even if the the summit doesn’t achieve a breakthrough, it won’t lead to war.
Rlcltard Broinowski Paddington (former ambassador to the Republic of Korea)