Former President Donald Trump said Saturday that America’s bold step to begin a direct dialogue with Pyongyang has opened the door to the reunification of North and South Korea and paved the way for a more peaceful world in the 21st century.
Joined online by current and former heads of state and other prominent international figures for a major virtual rally, Mr. Trump offered an optimistic call for unity and newfound cooperation around the world and for permanent denuclearization of North Korea, which has been a longstanding policy goal of both the U.S. and its unwavering regional friend and ally, South Korea.
“I truly believe that an extraordinary future awaits the people of North Korea — and I have faith that if they pursue the path of denuclearization, they will make that future a magnificent reality,” Mr. Trump said at the digital “Rally of Hope” event.
“Until that blessed day comes, the indispensable force for peace on the Korean peninsula remains a strong America. As we have seen recently in other parts of the world, weakness only invites more violence and chaos.”
“The true task for all of us who pray for peace on the Korean peninsula is to ensure that our nations are not only great in power and rich in wealth — but even more, we must be strong in spirit. Every nation must summon the will to protect its citizens, its allies, and to leave a better world for its children,” Mr. Trump said. “These are the forces and values that inspire change, that move countries, that make history, and that ultimately lead to peace.”
The rally, organized by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and the seventh such event since August 2020, drew participants from across the globe, all united in the fight against oppression, poverty and racial discrimination. Saturday evening’s event was part of UPF’s “Think Tank 2022 Rally of Hope” initiative, designed to bring together prominent figures from across the world and across all sectors of society to examine all aspects of the unification of North and South Korea, organizers said.
In addition to Mr. Trump, other speakers at Saturday night’s event included: Hun Sen, prime minister of Cambodia; José Manuel Barroso, former president of the European Commission; Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former president of The Philippines; H.D. Deve Gowda, former Indian prime minister; Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmon, former president of Trinidad and Tobago; Natasa Micic, former Serbian president; and others.
Beyond the reunification of North and South Korea, speakers also addressed key regional issues, including Chinese aggression toward Taiwan and the Chinese Communst Party’s broader effort to exert influence over the Pacific region.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for Japan, the U.S., South Korea and other stakeholders to come together as one and face that challenge head-on.
“The need for more solidarity between countries that share the values of freedom and democracy — such as Japan, the United States, Taiwan, and South Korea — is more pressing than ever,” he said.
“We will need passionate leaders if we are to achieve solidarity between countries sharing freedom and democracy, maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and achieve peaceful reunification on the Korean peninsula. These Rallies of Hope will give us much strength,” he said. “Of that I am confident.”
On Afghanistan, where the militant Taliban recently recaptured the country after the withdrawal of all U.S. troops, some world leaders called for international cooperation but also for an understanding that local populations are often best positioned to offer solutions.
“Other countries cannot transplant political values and systems upon any country, as these fundamentals need to be indigenously developed corresponding to the political, economic, social and cultural contexts of each individual country,” said Hun Sen, prime minister of Cambodia.
‘Kept the promise’
In her own remarks Saturday, UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon said today’s generation is poised to see history made on the Korean peninsula.
“Throughout human society, you have been specially chosen by heaven with regards to the heavenly unified Korea and the realization of world peace,” she said. “There is a profound meaning. You need to understand that heaven is working with you.”
Mrs. Moon, the leader of the Unification Church, and her late husband, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, devoted their lives to the reunification of the Korean peninsula and to the promotion of world peace.
Reuniting Korea is a key pillar of the Unification movement that grew from the Unification Church that Rev. Moon founded in 1954. Mrs. Moon has led the movement since a few years before the 2012 death of Rev. Moon, whose ministry grew from a tiny, embattled church in South Korea to a global spiritual movement and an affiliated commercial empire comprising real estate, manufacturing and agricultural operations, as well as media properties including The Washington Times.
The goal of truly changing the dynamic on the Korean peninsula seemed closer than ever during Mr. Trump‘s time in office.
While past presidents have pursued policies of isolation toward Pyongyang, Mr. Trump met face-to-face with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Their first meeting in Singapore in 2018 sparked the hope that the two nations could strike a long-awaited denuclearization deal, which proponents say would be a key step in the broader push toward reunification.
Mr. Trump held a second meeting with Mr. Kim in Vietnam, and in 2019 the two men met at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea. The Trump administration pushed for a deal in which Pyongyang would have agreed to permanent and verifiable abandonment of its nuclear-weapons program in exchange for relief from crushing economic sanctions and millions of dollars of outside investment from around the world.
While such a deal did not materialize, Mr. Trump said it’s clear the outreach still paid major dividends. Most notably, he said, the North Korean leader has at least temporarily given up nuclear-weapons launches and other major weapons testing.
“Although it became clear in our second summit in Hanoi that North Korea was not yet ready to make a deal, I remain full of hope for the future,” Mr. Trump said. “To this day, Chairman Kim has kept the promise he made to me in Singapore, that there would be no more long-range missile launches or nuclear weapons testing … I hope that continues.”
North Korea conducted several smaller-scale weapons tests early in President Biden’s tenure. The U.S.-North Korean dynamic has remained frosty during the first nine months of the Biden presidency and it’s unclear exactly how the Biden administration will approach Pyongyang over the next several years.