Special Forum

The unanticipated outbreak of a Korean peace process replete with unprecedented DPRK-US and inter-Korean summits has upended previous calculations among all the members of the six-party process in Korea. Every interested party is trying somehow to join the summit process.1 We see an acceleration of summits involving all parties to the peace process. Kim Jong-un has already held three summits with President Xi Jinping of China, two with South Korean president Moon Jae-in, and one with President Donald Trump. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is also seeking a summit with Kim, pending progress on the abductions issue.2 And Moon has just concluded a visit to President Vladmir Putin in Moscow. This frenetic diplomatic activity since March indicates continued turbulence. Russia, China, and Japan were clearly surprised by North Korea’s initiatives towards summits with South Korea and the United States, and their subsequent moves towards the United States and both Koreas underscore their efforts to reassert standing as participants with vital interests in the outcome of any negotiations. Indeed, one Chinese news report openly warned against feeling marginalized, but that is exactly what all three felt, and evidently still worry about.3 Despite its meetings with Kim, China evidently still fears being excluded from peace talks about formally ending the Korean War.4 Moscow too clearly worries about a peace process discounting it—for instance bypassing the six-party process—and it has scrambled to keep up since the process began.5

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