The state of affairs as regards settling the Korean issue, inter-Korean and US-North Korean relations can hardly be called encouraging in the recent months. At best, it could be described as stagnation, at worst – as a slow comeback to what the once warring and now negotiating parties used to be.
Undoubtedly, the past US-North Korean and inter-Korean summits have become a landmark event. They sort of outlined the parties' desire to remove hostility on the Korean Peninsula and, most importantly, to the feud between Pyongyang and Washington. Apparently, even the North Korean capital has sold itself the idea that such a successful outcome of the negotiation process is possible.
This, in particular, was evidenced by North Korea's outstanding negotiator Kim Gyo Hwan. The diplomat said the following, among other things: "The past summit meetings and negotiations served as a historic occasion for the top leaders of the DPRK and the United States to express their political will to put an end to hostile relations between the two countries and to establish peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula."
But today, he also expresses doubts over the possible holding of another US-North Korean summit, noting that no further practical measures have been taken to implement the earlier reached agreements.
The Americans, along with their military ally South Korea, keep conducting joint maneuvers, work out plans for joint operations in case of a Peninsula war, import there quite a lot of cutting-edge weapons and military equipment. Washington continues to insist that the key condition for further progress in Korean Affairs should be Pyongyang's complete, irreversible and verifiable disarmament.
And the North Korean leadership got very alarmed by statements by former US presidential National Security Adviser John Bolton, who indiscreetly equated North Korea with Libya. Even though Donald Trump had driven Bolton from office (particularly because of this comparison, they say), Pyongyang once again printed on its memory the cruel lessons of American policy in Iraq and Libya, as well as the horrible deaths of these countries leaders'.
Moreover, considering the US political situation instability and the highly possible drastic changes in Washington's North Korea policy, the DPRK capital has got lost in deep thought about security assurances for the country, its political system and its leadership and ... continued missile tests.
It is hard to condemn the North Koreans for this move: to date, the country's nuclear missile potential provides at least some guarantees, albeit incomplete.
But life, including political, has many faces. Every once in a while there are certain positive gleams in it. The South Korean government sources have suddenly reported on the signs of Pyongyang's preparing to resume the talks with Washington. This, according to the South Koreans, is particularly evidenced by the recent statements of first Vice Foreign Minister of the DPRK Choe Son Hui and Director of the Department of American Affairs of the DPRK Foreign Ministry Kwon Jong Gun.
It is obvious that Trump had also decided to revive the work on the North Korean issue. A South Korean government spokesman told foreign journalists that at the September 24 New York meeting, the leaders of South Korea and the United States provided a "positive signal" to North Korea: they decided to reexamine relations with Pyongyang and reiterated their intention to bury the hatchet with North Korea.
An admittedly poor signal, but Pyongyang seems to have heard it and is preparing for working contacts.
It is notable that in his UN General Assembly session speech, South Korean leader Moon Jae-in announced an initiative providing for the creation of an international peace zone in the demilitarized area to host UN agencies located in the territories of the South and the North, as well as peace, ecology and culture organizations.
The details of this initiative are yet to be revealed, but remarkably, in parallel with Seoul's diplomatic efforts, the South Korean military leaders are actively discussing the expansion of the United Nations Command with their American colleagues, namely by integrating a number of other countries' military, including Japan. Besides, it is planned to increase the Command's role on the Peninsula.
If Seoul and Washington have really conceived to combine these two initiatives, the diplomatic and the military ones, a plan of this kind is unlikely to have a future. It cannot be assumed that Pyongyang, as well as Seoul, will start considering Tokyo an equal partner in any affairs in the near future. Overcoming the everlasting feud between the Koreans and the Japanese requires a lot of work on the part of these countries' diplomats and leaders. Any aspirations of this kind are hardly in evidence so far.
Meanwhile, the Korean issue is not ignored in Russia either. At the recent Eastern Economic Forum, Russian head of state Vladimir Putin proposed to renew debate on trilateral projects between Russia, North and South Koreas. But he stressed that this requires a political settlement of the Korean Peninsula situation.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the country has a new plan for such a political settlement based on the roadmap proposed by Russia and China in 2017 and already submitted to Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington.
It is obvious that the Korean settlement has got off the ground, and the nearest future will reveal the details of these new initiatives and their possible robust implementation.