Fitch Ratings threw cold water on hopes for near-term peace on the Korean Peninsula on Monday, warning that the historic summit between South and North Korean leaders "does not eliminate risks associated with the military stand-off."
Despite newly positive sentiment stemming from the declarations of reconciliation between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-In, the ratings agency said in a statement that "a lengthy, unpredictable normalization of relations lies ahead."
Kim and Moon on Friday pledged to pursue peace and complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as well as work toward unification and end hostile acts.
The highly-anticipated summit took place after more than 30 years of North Korean missile tests and 12 years after its first nuclear test. The North had claimed the tests were a necessary deterrent to an attack from the U.S. or South Korea, the latter of which is home to more than 23,000 U.S. troops. All of this has left regional experts skeptical over the promise of disarmament and normalized relations.
The countries have technically been at war since fighting began in 1950 — an armistice was signed to end the violence in 1953, rather than a peace treaty. The peninsula has been divided since 1954, and the presidents' meeting was the first to take place in more than a decade.
The Fitch comments came amid an outpouring of speculation around the world as to the intentions of the rogue state's authoritarian leader. Many regional experts question whether North Korea's government is simply buying time, engendering goodwill in order to loosen economic sanctions that have crippled the country's already poor and state-controlled economy. Two previous summits, held in 2000 and 2007, failed to produce positive results despite similar promises from the North.