The current situation in the Korean peninsula is unfolding rapidly. Meanwhile, regional stakeholders are trying to make sure that they are present at any negotiation table. In fact, the fight for influence has never been stronger in the North Korea crisis, which has already been going for decades. Now that high-stakes summits have finally been planned, other regional leaders are doing their best to get involved in the negotiations.
The first summit is to take place between Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea, and Kim Jong un, Supreme Leader of North Korea, in April. This will be followed by another summit between North Korea and the United States of America scheduled for May or June.
There has been a thaw in the tensed relations in the region which had escalated after North Korea conducted nuclear and missile tests followed by sanctions from the international community. The Winter Olympics witnessed a stunning rapprochement between the two Koreas, leading to a decrease in hostilities and paved the way for the summits to take place.
However, the key players in the region have their own agendas for the talks.
China is open to having a four-party summit, consisting of both Koreas, the US and China itself. However, it will also be amenable to a summit between all 6 interested parties.
As for the US, it wants bilateral talks with North Korea directly but will also be open to three-party discussions if South Korea wants to join.
South Korea prefers trilateral meetings with US and North Korea since it believes that its own influence on the proceedings will be diluted if others join in. It doesn’t want to be sidelined in the reconciliation process with North Korea.
Russia has seen its influence in the peninsula reduce over the years. As such, it will be interested in having a 6-party summit with all the powers involved to find a resolution that works. It will certainly not want to be left out in one of the biggest crises in its neighborhood.
North Korea will certainly not mind having talks involving all 6 parties as it will allow it to have Russia and China on its side. It has already demonstrated that China is a valuable ally when the North Korean leader visited the country recently, the first foreign visit by the leader.