The three-day meeting starting today in Pyongyang will be over before all the pre-summit speculation about the intent of the two Korean...

The three-day meeting starting today in Pyongyang will be over before all the pre-summit speculation about the intent of the two Korean leaders finally dies away.

This is only the second such summit since the Korean War was put on indefinite hold, but the two sides have negotiated and traded up a storm in recent years. Oddly, instead of celebrating easier, more facile exchanges between once-fierce enemies, there is gloomy talk about diplomatic missteps behind closed doors. There’s even unnerving chatter that South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il might announce a symbolic peace agreement. Apparently, engaging North Korea is good, but not too much engagement.

The doubters see this summit as Roh’s attempt to put a shine on his record before he leaves office. Fat chance, given his popularity numbers.

The opposition Grand National Party is quite likely to name the next occupant of the Blue House, but the GNP is cool to reconciliation. Is Kim Jong-il trying to snub the GNP and give its opponents a boost?

Watching from the sidelines are the other four members of the six-party talks on the Korean peninsula: China, Japan, Russia and the United States. Lots of fast moves pending in Pyongyang? Not at the risk of much higher stakes for all parties.

Two enemies learning to plan and execute civil engagements. Admirable progress after so much blood, bluster and nuttiness.