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'My Fear Today Is That We Have Been Played - Again': Kim Jong Un Makes History, Critics Urge Caution

04-27-2018
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Shakes Hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Photo, AP

It was a most extraordinary scene. The Korean dictator from the North walking alongside the democratically elected president from the South, parading through pomp as the world watched.

Kim Jong Un stepped across the world's most heavily armed border, the first North Korean leader to do so since the Korean War, amid cheers – warmly greeting South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Although the North and South are still technically at war, the leaders embraced, laughed and smiled like old friends.

After the summit, President Donald Trump tweeted, "After a furious year of missile launches and nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea is now taking place. Good things are happening, but only time will tell!"

For Moon, the Korean summit is the fulfillment of a major political goal to improve relations with the North, a goal that seemed out of reach a few months ago as the North engaged in an aggressive round of weapons tests.

His challenge is getting Kim to get specific about how much he's willing to reduce his nuclear arsenal.

The summit lays the foundation for the planned historic meeting between Kim and President Trump that could come next month and on the heels of now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to the North earlier this month.

Newly released photos show him meeting with Kim.

For now, President Trump says Kim is dealing like an honest broker.

"He's really been very open and I think very honorable from everything that we're seeing," President Trump said. "We have been told directly that they would like to have the meeting as soon as possible and we think that's a great thing for the world."

Kim hopes to use his nuclear might and legitimacy that will come with having a meeting with the president of the United States to forge a peace treaty with the South that ends the Korean War and pushes the 30,000 US troops stations in the South off the Korean Peninsula.

However, it's unlikely the US would leave the South.

In time, Kim envisions a unified Korea led by the North that's beholden neither to the US nor China.

But skeptics suggest Kim is only dangling disarmament to buy more time and ease though US sanctions to perfect its nuclear weapons while still collecting international aid.

Harry Kazianis, director of Defense Studies at the Center for National Interest, tweeted, "If there is one real lesson history screams out for us to relearn when it comes to anything #NorthKorea promises it is this: words are utterly meaningless."

"And my fear today, as the world holds its collective breath, gazing fondly over images that seem to be a game changer coming from the recently ended summit between #NorthKorea's Kim Jong Un and #SouthKorea's Moon-Jae In, is that we have been played—again," he warned.

"Maybe it'll be wonderful and maybe it won't. If it's not going to be fair and reasonable and good, I will, unlike past administrations, I will leave the table," President Trump recently told reporters.

In a note at the summit Kim wrote, "A new history begins now – at the starting point of history and the era of peace."

Time will tell.

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