Andre Hanks via White House
On Thursday, March 8, President Trump was invited via Chung Eui-yong, South Korea’s national security adviser, to meet and engage in nuclear talks with Kim Jong-un in North Korea. “He is committed to denuclearization” and will “refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests,” said Mr. Chung.
Shortly after Mr. Chung’s announcement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “[The President] will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong-un at a place and time to be determined.” The meeting is widely expected to take place in May.
The relationship between Trump and Kim Jong-un has consisted of little more than inflammatory statements and exchanges. Trump has often referred to Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man” on Twitter, and Kim Jong-un has previously described Trump’s behavior as “mentally deranged”; the President, however, predicts that the meeting will be a success. On Saturday, March 10, Trump told reporters, “I think North Korea is going to go very well.”
Analysts have warned of North Korea’s history of unreliability. Gary Samore, who negotiated with North Korea during the Clinton administration said of Trump’s expectations, “Clinton, Bush, and Obama all discovered that this is not an easy problem to solve and so I’m afraid Trump is going into this with wildly erratic expectations.”
For Kim Jong-un, simply having Trump attend the meeting will be a win, since it will legitimize North Korea on the world stage. For the United States, success will be much more complicated if America hopes to prevent further nuclearization and eventually disarm North Korea.
On Tuesday, March 13, President Trump also fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement, further complicating diplomatic success. An anonymous White House official said that the timing of Tillerson’s dismissal was designed to allow Trump to put a new team in place for the North Korea talks.
Sources: New York Times, CNN, Vox, Twitter, The Guardian, Bloomberg, USA Today
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