Sequencing could be the next issue to get batted around publicly

Yonhap’s coverage of the chatfest at CSIS yesterday focused on the comment by Joseph Yun — who retired recently from a long diplomatic career with stints in Seoul, an ambassadorship to Thailand and ended as North Korea liaison — that denuclearization should come before a peace treaty.

One of the misses so far by the U.S. media in the coverage after the inter-Korean summit has  been how the emphasis that both Koreas put on a peace treaty is so different from the last big diplomatic process involving North Korea, the Six Party Talks that climaxed in early 2007. In February that year, the countries in the talks — both Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia — agreed on a implementation plan that involved five working groups. You can read it at the State Department archive here.

The plan emphasizes a series of activities that would all happen to build trust, while a peace treaty discussion would begin on a separate track. The trust-building work included restoration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and North Korea, and Japan and North Korea.

Some Trump supporters will call Yun a creature of the Washington swamp for warning about the complexity that lies ahead. But audience members at the CSIS event, in a poll, said they believed the outcome from the summitry this spring will be protracted diplomacy. A key Yun quote from Yonhap:

“We have to admit the price has gone up and we are not going to be able to buy them off at the price we did either (at the) six-party talks or Agreed Framework,” he said, referring to the North’s past agreements to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for economic aid. Those deals ultimately collapsed. “In that sense, you are going to need many summits and many meetings just to get to what they want. And you have to address what they want. If you believe they should only address what we want I think that’s a very, very mistaken path.”