Trump should win Nobel Peace Prize, says South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/donald-trump-nobel-peace-prize-moon-jae-in-north-south-korea-us-president-a8329276.html
THE INDEPENDENT
Trump should win Nobel Peace Prize, says South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in
Chris Baynes

Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in in November 2017
Donald Trump should win a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the stand-off 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.

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

Mr Moon was greeted by 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 first small steps towards reconciliation, South Korea said on Monday 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.

South Korea turned off the loudspeakers, which have broadcasted 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 on Tuesday.

“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 5 May, state media reported on Monday. 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 Two.

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-Berkeley, told The Independent 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”.

“Trump should receive minimal, if any, credit,” said Alison Evans, deputy head of Asia Pacific country risk at the research firm IHS Markit. 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 himself had no qualms about taking credit for the US role, tweeting immediately 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 President Trump, planned to take place for late May or early June.

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Pyongyang has long demanded denuclearisation must include the United States pulling its 28,500 troops out of South Korea and removing its so-called “nuclear umbrella” security commitment to Seoul and Japan.

Any deal with the US will require North Korea to demonstrate “irreversible” steps to shutting down its nuclear weapons programme, secretary of state Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

Mr Kim told Mr Moon he would invited experts and journalists from the US and South Korea to witness the dismantlement of its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, the Blue House said on Sunday.

North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests at the site, comprised of a series of tunnels dug into the mountains in the country’s north-east. Researchers have speculated that the most recent – and by far largest – blast in September had rendered the entire site unusable.

But Mr Kim said there were two additional, larger tunnels that remain “in very good condition” beyond the existing one, which experts believe may have collapsed.

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