Start GRASP/Korea With Trump frozen out, North and South Korea engage in historic cross...

With Trump frozen out, North and South Korea engage in historic cross border de-escalation


The Koreas keep making symbolic and significant moves, as President Trump pivots from diplomacy to sanctions.
As President Donald Trump seems to have hit a wall in his efforts to denuclearize North Korea, the country’s neighbor, South Korea, continues to make small — yet historic — strides in de-escalating tensions at the long-militarized border.
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that North and South Korean soldiers have engaged in a cross-border operation that saw them verifying the removal of some of each other’s frontline guard posts.
The removal and inspection of the 22 posts — 11 from each of the Koreas — was largely symbolic, but nonetheless significant, given that this time last year, North Korea was testing weapons  and  threatening South Korea and the United States.
South Korea’s liberal president, Moon Jae-in, called the efforts “a new milestone” in in the history of the two countries, saying that such cooperation would have been “unimaginable in the past.”
Mintaro Oba, a former State Department diplomat focusing on the Koreas told ThinkProgress that Seoul’s engagement with Pyongyang won’t lead to denuclearization, nor is it intended to.
“But they do help keep the Korean Peninsula more stable and secure. That is a worthy goal because it helps protect our U. S. forces in the region, reduces the likelihood we’ll have to intervene to defend our ally, and allows us to focus strategic resources elsewhere,” said Oba.
He added that the de-escalation also helps create a stable atmosphere for negotiations on denuclearization, opening another channel “to help gauge North Korean intentions and relay messages.”
“As long as Seoul is not giving up leverage that could help in denuclearization talks, North-South engagement is largely a good thing,” said Oba, answering questions via e-mail.

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