Protesters in South Korea Denounce Trump’s Decision to Pull Back from North Korea Peace Meeting

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Trump’s decision comes hours after North Korea dismantled a nuclear test site

The Dawn News / May 24, 2018

Hundreds of people in the capital city of Seoul protested against the US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the highly anticipated peace talks with North Korea. South Korea’s People’s Democracy Party (PDP)  and Minjung party condemned the ‘reckless attitude’ of Trump towards the peace process in the region. In one of the protests near the US embassy, people gathered with placards bearing images of Trump sporting Nazi insignia and surrounded by warplanes, and one of the banner read “withdraw U.S. troops.”

A delegation of Women Cross DMZ, a network of civil society groups based in the U.S., U.K., Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, and other countries also joined the protest. “Even though President Trump has unilaterally withdrawn from the June 12 meeting, the momentum for peace cannot be stopped,” said Christine Ahn, founder of Women Cross DMZ, which calls for an end to the Korean War, reunification of families and women’s leadership in the peace process.  “Peace isn’t just up to two men. It’s up to the people and the leaders of North and South Korea, and that peace train has long left the station.” 

It seems that even the South Korean leadership is baffled by Trump’s decision. According to reports, President Moon Jae-in called for an emergency meeting. “We are trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and the exact meaning of it,” government spokersperon Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters.

On Thursday, Just hours after North Korea dismantled its nuclear test site as promised, Trump announced that he was withdrawing from the scheduled peace talks with Pyongyang. The meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was to be held on June 12 in Singapore.

Trump claimed that his decision was in response to “the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement.” He is likely to have been referring to North Korea’s  response to repeated statements by US officials, including Vice-President Mike Pence, on the applicability of the ‘Libyan model’ to North Korea. Taking a belligerent tone, Trump said “Our military, which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world, is ready if necessary. He added that the militaries of Japan and South Korea were also in operational readiness posture to ‘deal with North Korea[n] hostility’.

Earlier, Pyongyang has expressed serious concerns about the joint US and South Korean military drills, and said that it would suspend the talks if their aggressive military behaviour continued. Despite the progress in the peace process in the region, the allies conducted the two-week Max Thunder drills, reportedly involving about 100 aircraft. North Korea considers these joint military drills a ‘preparation for invasion’ and ‘provocation’.

The US decision to withdraw from the talks is a huge blow to the peace process in the region, which began in January and was further cemented during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

On April 27, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two countries. It was the first time that a ruling North Korean leader crossed the de-facto border and entered the South since the Korean war. In the meeting between the two leaders, it was agreed to “completely cease all hostile acts against each other in every domain, including land, air and sea”.

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