Trump And Kim Stage Another Photo Op Summit At The DMZ

President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un met at the Demilitarized Zone for what amounts to their third summit in a year. As with the previous two, there was nothing of substance accomplished.

President Trump and Kim Jong Un met at the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea in what is being billed as an impromptu meeting coinciding with Trump’s visit with South Korean President Moon Jae In, and while the two leaders agree to restart lower-level talks that had been stalled since the failed Hanoi Summit earlier this year, it’s clear that this was little more than a photo opportunity:\

SEOUL, South Korea — President Trump became the first sitting American commander in chief to set foot in North Korea on Sunday as he greeted Kim Jong-un, the country’s leader, at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone and the two agreed to send their negotiators back to the table to seek a long-elusive nuclear agreement.

Met in the middle by a beaming Mr. Kim, Mr. Trump stepped across a low concrete marker at 3:46 p.m. local time and walked 20 steps to the base of a building on the North Korean side for an encounter carried live on international television — an unprecedented, camera-friendly demonstration of friendship intended to revitalize stalled talks.

“It is good to see you again,” a seemingly exuberant Mr. Kim told the president through an interpreter. “I never expected to meet you in this place.”

“Big moment, big moment,” Mr. Trump told him.

After about a minute on officially hostile territory, Mr. Trump escorted Mr. Kim back over the line into South Korea, where the two briefly addressed a scrum of journalists before slipping inside the building known as Freedom House for a private conversation. Mr. Trump said he would invite Mr. Kim to visit him at the White House.

“This has a lot of significance because it means that we want to bring an end to the unpleasant past and try to create a new future, so it’s a very courageous and determined act,” Mr. Kim told reporters.

“Stepping across that line was a great honor,” Mr. Trump replied. “A lot of progress has been made, a lot of friendships have been made and this has been in particular a great friendship.”

A showman by nature and past profession, Mr. Trump delighted in the drama of the moment. Never before had American and North Korean leaders gotten together at the line bristling with concertina wire and weapons, where heavily armed forces have faced off across a tense divide for 66 years since the end of fighting in the Korean War.

The encounter in Panmunjom was cast as a brief greeting, not a formal negotiation, but the two ended up together for a little more than an hour.

After emerging, Mr. Trump said he and Mr. Kim had agreed to designate negotiators to resume conversations in the next few weeks. The American team will continue to be headed by Stephen Biegun, the special envoy, but it remained unclear who would be on the North Korean side of the table.

Mr. Trump gambled that the show of amity could crack the logjam, underscoring his faith in the power of his own personal diplomacy to achieve what has eluded presidents in the past. More than halfway through his term, Mr. Trump is eager for a resolution to the longstanding nuclear dispute, seeing it as a signature element of the legacy he hopes to forge.

Mr. Kim accepted Mr. Trump’s unorthodox invitation, posted on Twitter just a day earlier, and both sides scrambled over the past 24 hours to manage the logistics and security required for such a get-together. Mr. Trump was already scheduled to make an unannounced visit to the DMZ during his trip to South Korea, and while he portrayed the idea of meeting with Mr. Kim while there as a spontaneous one, he had actually been musing out loud about it for days in advance.

“There are 35 million people in Seoul, 25 miles away,” Mr. Trump said before Mr. Kim’s arrival, gazing into the distance as he was shown the line from the observation deck. “All accessible by what they already have in the mountains,” he added, an apparent reference to the massive North Korean artillery firepower built up within range of Seoul over several decades. “There’s nothing like that anywhere in terms of danger.”
Panmunjom, which straddles the North-South border, is commonly known as the “truce village” because the American-led United Nations forces signed an armistice with North Korea and its Chinese backers in 1953 to halt the three-year Korean War.

Even in this symbolic moment of reconciliation, Mr. Trump seemed to dwell on his grievances about his media coverage, repeating complaints he has made several times over the last day that he has not received enough credit for de-escalating tensions on the peninsula.

(…)

Critics said the greeting at the DMZ was nothing more than a glorified photo opportunity by a president who himself ratcheted up the conflict with North Korea in his first year in office by making “fire and fury” threats to destroy the small Asian country if it threatened American security.

“At this point I’m not sure what it is that President Trump is trying to accomplish, because while all this engagement has gone on, there has been no decline in the stockpile of North Korean nuclear weapons or missiles; in fact they have increased them,” Joseph Yun, who was the United States special representative for North Korea policy under President Barack Obama and Mr. Trump, said on CNN. “Yes, it’s true that tensions are down, but remember that tensions were built up because of all the fire and fury in 2017.”

On the other hand, Sue Mi Terry, who served as a National Security Council aide specializing in Korean affairs under both President George W. Bush and Mr. Obama, said it could yield progress if Mr. Trump proves willing to accept a partial accord short of a comprehensive agreement.

“This meeting could lead to a more substantive meeting down the road, later in the year,” she said in an interview. “I do think Kim could offer just enough on the negotiating table such as the Yongbyon nuclear facility plus yet another suspected nuclear facility in order to secure an interim deal with Trump and at least some sanctions relief.”

More from The Washington Post:

PANMUNJOM, South Korea  — President Trump met Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea on Sunday, and briefly crossed into North Korea, marking the first time a sitting U.S. president has ever done so. 

The two men then held 53 minutes of private talks, and agreed to set up teams to “work out some detail” to see if progress could be made in their negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program, Trump said. 

“Speed is not the object, we want to see if we can do a really comprehensive, good deal,” Trump said after the talks. “Nobody knows how things turn out, but certainly this was a great day, this was a very legendary, very historic day.”

“It’ll be even more historic if something comes up, something very important,” he added. “Very big stuff, pretty complicated, but not as complicated as people think.”

Trump’s meeting with Kim came four months after the breakdown of their second summit in Hanoi, although Trump argued that summit had been a success because his relationship with the North Korean leader had only deepened.

 History was made at 3:45 p.m. local time on Sunday, as Trump and Kim walked up to the demarcation line dividing the two Koreas, and shook hands. Kim then invited Trump to cross into North Korea. They stayed a few minutes then both crossed back into South Korea.

“Good to see you,” Kim said. “I never expected to see you in this place.”

Kim said the very fact of them meeting had a lot of significance.

“We want to bring an end to our unpleasant past and bring in a new future, so this is a very courageous and determined act,” he said. ”This handshake of peace itself serves to demonstrate that today is different from yesterday. “

Trump said it was “my honor” to cross into North Korea.

“A lot of really great things are happening, tremendous things,” he said. “We met and we liked each other from Day One, and that was very important.”

The two men then met with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, before adjourning for talks in the Inter-Korean House of Freedom, on the southern side of the border.

Sitting down before the private talks began, Kim again underlined the importance of the meeting. “I hope it can be the foundation for better things that people will not be expecting,” he said.

 “Our great relationship will provide the magical power with which to overcome hardships and obstacles in the tasks that needs to be done from now on.”

 Earlier, Trump also spoke warmly of Kim.

“We’ve developed a very good relationship and we understand each other very well. I do believe he understands me, and I think I maybe understand him, and sometimes that can lead to very good things.”

Afterward, Trump said the two sides would designate teams, with the U.S. team would be headed by special envoy Stephen Biegun under the auspices of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to start work in the next two to three weeks. “They’ll start a process, and we’ll see what happens,” he said. 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in called the meeting a historic moment in the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.

“Through today’s meeting, the peace process for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishment of permanent peace has overcome a big hurdle,” he said. “It gave a big hope to the world and the 80 million people of South and North Korea.”

 Trump had broadcast his offer to meet Kim at the border in a morning tweet in Osaka, Japan, at the Group of 20 summit on Saturday. A senior North Korean official responded soon after that the offer was “interesting.”

Whether the meeting was really arranged in just 24 hours remains open to question — the two men also exchanged letters earlier this month — but Trump said the idea had simply occurred to him on Saturday.

“Yesterday I was just thinking ‘I am here, let’s see whether or not we can say hello to Kim Jong Un,'” he said. “I put the word out and he got back and wanted to do it from the beginning and so did I.”

Notwithstanding Trump’s representations that he had just come up with this idea twenty-four hour earlier, I must admit to finding that assertion difficult to believe. Meetings of this type simply are not put together at the last minute. In addition to the diplomatic back-and-forth that must occur to make an event like this, there are the rather obvious security concerns that must be considered and the coordination between the Secret Service, United States military, South Korean military, and North Korean military that would be required to pull this off. Regardless of what one thinks about whether this was a productive meeting, and more about that in a second, the idea that all of this was put together in just twenty-four hours, while certainly possible, just doesn’t seem likely.

That being said, regardless of whether this meeting was put together at the last minute or something that the two sides have been talking about for weeks it’s unclear exactly what was accomplished with this meeting. The resumption of talks could be a good thing, but that will only be the case if the United States changes its expectations of what those talks can accomplish. Specifically, the idea that these talks will ever end with the North Koreans giving up their existing nuclear stockpile is foolish and guarantees that the talks will end in failure. As I have made clear before, it’s obvious that the North Koreans see this stockpile as the guarantor of their security and of the survival of the Kim regime. After seeing what happened in nations such as Libya and Iraq, the idea that Kim is going to give up the nuclear weapons program he and his father before him developed, and what that has resulted in, is quite simply fanciful.

Much like the Singapore Summit last year and the failed Hanoi Summit then, today’s meeting at the DMZ was little more than a photo opportunity. As Korea expert Victor Cha said on MSNBC early this morning, ” meeting Kim at DMZ is like having the Super Bowl when you haven’t played a single game.” Ordinarily, summits like this are the end of a process, not the beginning. As we saw during the course of the Cold War and, most especially, the summits between American Presidents and Soviet leaders that took place from the Nixon Administration to the Reagan Administration, a meeting of this type occurs after months of negotiation between the two sides and, typically, results in the creation of some agreement that the two leaders can agree to. The summit, therefore, is the capstone of the diplomatic process, not the foundation, and the fact that it has been necessary for these two leaders to meet three times to try to revive a process that is doomed to fail as long as the United States continues to base its negotiating position on the completely unrealistic goal of unilateral denuclearization by the DPRK.

It’s still possible, of course, for the United States to end up with an agreement with North Korea that would go a long way toward reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. For example, we could finally negotiate an end to the Korean War via a peace treaty that includes not just the DPRK and the United States but also China and South Korea. This treaty could conceivably include agreements that would reduce tensions along the Demilitarized Zone that would include the removal of troops on both sides that have spent the last 60 years and more on a hair trigger for war. Among other things, this would significantly reduce the risk to some of the most heavily populated areas of South Korea, which at the moment remain vulnerable to a North Korean military strike that could come with virtually no warning. Perhaps, this would make it possible for the United States to remove some of its forces in the future.

Developments over the past year also offer a guide to what talks with the North Koreans could realistically achieve. For example, tensions on the Korean peninsula, which have been on a razor’s edge since the end of the Korean War and ramped up significantly during the tit-for-tat exchanges that took place between President Trump and the North Korean leader throughout 2017, have calmed down significantly over the past year. Additionally, the relationship between North and South Korea appears to be better than it has been in several years during which the DPRK was engaged in provocative action such as firing missiles at a South Korean naval base and attacking a South Korean naval vessel. Making those changes permanent would be a good thing. However, as I have noted before (see here, here and here), if the United States continues to insist that the ultimate goal of these talks is the idea that North Korea will give up its nuclear arsenal, then all of this is doomed to fail.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un, National Security, North Korea, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Bruce Henry says:

    Let’s all pause for a moment to consider the apoplexy that would have been rampant on FOX and Talk Radio had Obama set foot on North Korean soil.

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  2. Stormy Dragon says:

    Significant:

    Tucker Carlson accompanied Trump to the meeting, while Bolton was literally sent to Mongolia:

    Delighted to be in Ulaanbaatar & looking forward to meeting with officials to find ways to harness Mongolia’s capabilities in support of our shared economic & security objectives. Thank you for the warm welcome Secretary of State @davaasuren_d pic.twitter.com/AN8T1AHryg— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) June 30, 2019

    If Bolton is on the way out, that’s good news.

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  3. @Stormy Dragon:

    The addition of South Korea to Trump’s itinerary only happened a week ago, it’s probable that Bolton’s trip to Mongolia had been on the book for a long time before then.

    I doubt Bolton is going anywhere.

  4. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Supposedly Trump is blaming Bolton for Venezuela and Iran now turning out the way he wanted them too.

  5. Kathy says:

    The North Korean photo-op summit aren’t even a novelty anymore.

    Dennison’s in danger of boring his base.

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  6. Another PR coup for Kim and images that can be used to bolster him domestically while at the same time accomplishing nothing of substance.

    Kudos to POTUS and the whole team!

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  7. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Trump has helped L’il Kim become a credible international leader and gotten nothing in return for it.

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  8. @Doug Mataconis: Yup. So much winning.

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  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Honestly, this didn’t bother me. Even though it’s just a “stopped clock” moment for Trump, if a real President (Obama for example) had done it, it would have been a great thing. It’s purely optical so if that is what it takes to move the process forward, great. If not, no real loss, because it cost us nothing of actual value.

  10. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Kim IS an international leader. Should the goal of our foreign policy toward NK be to resolve our problems or to humiliate one person because we think the entire planet works like a High School cafeteria?

  11. @Stormy Dragon: While I do not think it a huge problem, the bottom line is that one of the bargaining chips the US has had is giving Kim respect (and giving Kim some juice domestically in NK).

    We have given him both for nothing in return.

    Kim IS an international leader. Should the goal of our foreign policy toward NK be to resolve our problems or to humiliate one person because we think the entire planet works like a High School cafeteria?

    I have written about this before. I have zero problem with talks with NK. I don’t mind head of state level talks–but they have to be, as Doug notes in the post, part of a process.

    Kim wants to be treated like a major global leader. Trump is giving him that for free because it makes Trump feel important. It is foolish to give away some small leverage for nothing in return when dealing with a country like NK.

    It is very likely a more skilled administration could have gotten some real concessions out of Kim in exchange for a meeting with the US president. Instead? Nothing.

    Not the worst thing Trump has done, to be sure.

    And who said anything about humiliation? I just don’t see the point of having PR visits with a pretty brutal authoritarian in a way that a) solves no problems, and b) enhances his international and domestic standing.

    Why would you want to do that? It isn’t harmless.

  12. Stormy Dragon says:

    Why would you want to do that? It isn’t harmless.

    What is the harm? What is Kim going to do now that he wasn’t going to do anyways?

  13. Slugger says:

    I believe in reaching out to other nations. We must do this with the recognition that all nations have their interests and that conflict must be restrained to avoid military actions that always, always entail enormous costs in blood. The need to manage the strains that exist in all human relations is not just a matter of personal relations, of course. The tremendous power that is currently held by Trump and Kim is not theirs; it is momentarily invested in them. Trump and Kim (and you and me) are transitory. We should judge this meeting by how well it builds institutional means to further conflict resolution; the actors on the stage want applause, but the play’s the thing.

  14. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    What is the harm? What is Kim going to do now that he wasn’t going to do anyways?

    For one thing, it makes it more difficult to criticize North Korea’s or Kim’s abuses when El Cheeto claims to be in love with the brutal despot.

    Not that what passes for an administration these days would even contemplate such a thing, but it carries over to other areas, like Iran and Venezuela. Look, North Korea beat and murdered a US citizen, and Trump is writing love letters to Kim. Iran shot down an unmanned US drone, and damaged some non-US oil tankers, and Dennison is sounding the tocsin of war. Venezuela hasn’t even done that much, and it’s also under attack from Washington.

    Trump has no credibility problem because he has no credibility at all.

    Second, current attitudes towards North Korea will carry over to the next administration, which will hopefully include a real president. They’ll have a harder time negotiating anything with Kim, if he already has what he wanted. so any move to re-freeze relations will be seen as hostile or a provocation.

    Third, we live in an era where soft power, over longer time spans, can accomplish a lot more, and with better results, than hard power. Dennison is expending America’s soft power to prop up Kim.

  15. SenyorDave says:

    Here’s what Tucker Carlos had to say about Kim, it is obvious to me that Carlson would have defended Hitler had he gotten the chance:
    “There’s no defending the North Korean regime, which is a monstrous regime. It’s the last really Stalinist regime in the world,” said Carlson by phone. “It’s a disgusting place, obviously, so there’s no defending it.”
    “On the other hand,” he said, immediately switching to defending it. “You know, you’ve got to be honest about what it means to lead a country, it means killing people. Not on the scale that the North Koreans do, but a lot of countries commit atrocities including a number that we’re closely allied with.”
    “You know, I’m not a relativist or anything, but it’s important to be honest about that,” said Carlson.
    What’s another million people killed through starvation, torture, etc.

  16. mattbernius says:

    @SenyorDave: Carlson’s metamorphosis into Pat Buchanan is nearly complete.

    Aside: given the “policy consulting” he had been doing I wonder if Carlson is playing with running for office.

  17. @Stormy Dragon:

    What is the harm?

    Kim knows that if he can send Trump beautiful letters and shake his hand that he can act brutally internally without criticism. He also know that internal critics have less hope because the US is endorsing Kim as a great dude.

    There is also serious long-term harm to American credibility.

  18. Teve says:

    @Bruce Henry:

    Let’s all pause for a moment to consider the apoplexy that would have been rampant on FOX and Talk Radio had Obama set foot on North Korean soil.

    Wouldn’t have happened. Because after Obama said on live TV that he fell in love with Kim Jong Un, and accusations came out that he sexually assaulted or raped 22 white women, all of talk radio would have suffered explosive cerebral infarction and would no longer exist.

  19. JKB says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Another PR coup for Kim and images that can be used to bolster him domestically

    Yes, meeting the US President and inviting him onto North Korean territory at the looming DMZ border is just the thing to bolster Kim in the traditional “”Struggle Against US Imperialism Month” (informally called “Hate America Month” in the U.S. media), which is commemorated by anti-U.S. mass rallies at Kim Il-sung Square, Pyongyang.” The month was cancelled in 2018 for the first time in what the AP called “a sign of detente”

  20. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Kim knows that if he can send Trump beautiful letters and shake his hand that he can act brutally internally without criticism. He also know that internal critics have less hope because the US is endorsing Kim as a great dude.

    So, the problem is more that the President is an easily manipulated twit, rather than that the president met Kim?

  21. @JKB: Yes. Having the US president come and greet the Great Leader with respect is a way that propagandist in NK can show how the Great Leader is taming the hateful US.

    This really isn’t that hard to understand.

  22. @Gustopher:

    So, the problem is more that the President is an easily manipulated twit, rather than that the president met Kim?

    Indeed.

  23. Teve says:
  24. Tyrell says:

    I wouldn’t step foot anywhere near that crazy place, scarier than the “Bates Motel”!
    This brings up memories of President’s Nixon amazing trip to China. I remember the night that it was announced to the world that “Nixon is going to China!”. It was July 15, 1971. No one had any idea what the announcement would be. When he said he was going to China that night, people literally went into a state of slack-jawed shock! Many said that he must have gone crazy to go to that place. Some Republicans did not like it but did not have much to say.

  25. inhumans99 says:

    @Tyrell:

    I think I understand the point you are trying to make with your post, but this is what, President Trump’s third attempt at a only Nixon could go to China moment, yes? The problem is that outside of you, JKB, James P, Guarneri, and Tucker Carlson (and Fox & Friends) no one see this photo op as something with gravitas.

    That is what President Trump is hoping for, that the majority of his supporters will see this as a holy cow our President is chatting with North Korea and getting stuff done, MAGA, he is the best, blah, blah, blah, moment but the reality is that the majority of even his base sees this as nothing more than what it is, a desperate attempt to look relevant on the world stage.

    I look at this photo op and cringe because we are at a point where our President is like that dude who reeks of desperation at an interview of needing the job, as my brother says (and he has been responsible for hiring employees)….it is just an uncomfortable situation, as you know you are not going to hire the candidate, the candidate knows this…it is just awkward and uncomfortable all around.

    Our President is looking like a lame duck well before the 2020 elections roll around, he has an administration and advisors that are practically begging him to get his war on with Iran and yet clearly our President must be talking to a non Iran Hawk who is telling him sure, you can declare war and bomb Iran but once things start what happens then, do we have an alliance ready to provide support, are we prepared around the world for possible increased terrorist activity, how much money are you Mr President willing to see spent on this conflict, are we able to go it alone, both with troops, equipment, and financing the conflict?

    Oh yeah, I am sure said advisor also pointed out to President Trump that our “allies” in the region, Israel, and Saudi Arabia would be too busy dealing with the crap that hits their fan if a conflict with Iran breaks out. Israel will be bombarded with folks who want to take advantage of the chaos of war to hit Israel hard so Israel will be too busy making sure their country does not go up in flames to really contribute to putting the needed boots on the ground to confirm that Iran’s nuclear capabilities are actually as degraded as much as the sycophants in the White House will claim to the American public.

    Saudi Arabia is already bogged down in a conflict with Yemen and we are already providing them lots of help in this conflict, so it stands to reason that they will have little to no resources to divert to the actual conflict raging in Iran.

    Our President knows he is a lame duck, and the only thing going for him are the occasional victory in Court that lets him screw over the American Public, that includes his base and everyone else. Even some of these court victories could be considered to be Pyrrhic because God help the GOP if a newly energized Democratic President and his supporters decide to take what has been handed to them by the Supreme Court and run with it.

  26. Slugger says:

    @Tyrell: You’re right, Tyrell. Imagine if Humbert Humphrey had won the 1968 election and instituted a slow withdrawal from Vietnam that could only lead to a triumphant entry of the NVA into Saigon and then made overtures to the PRC. The GOP would have been apoplectic. The video of the current event shows Kim standing there while Trump walks toward Kim like a supplicant. APOLOGY TOUR!
    This why I don’t identify with any party.

  27. @Tyrell: The thing is, Nixon had a major breakthrough with China (much of which took a lot of diplomacy before Nixon actually went).

    He didn’t just have photo ops.

    There has been nothing of significance to emerge from the Trump-Kim encounters (certainly not from the US’ POV)

  28. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The thing is, Nixon had a major breakthrough with China (much of which took a lot of diplomacy before Nixon actually went).

    He didn’t just have photo ops.

    Oh Steven, you pointed headed academic, how dare you suggest that there is some good reason behind the traditional expert based approach to diplomacy.

    Further, I cannot believe you forgot about that war that Obama started with the North Koreans that Trump bravely got us out of.

    /s

  29. Ken_L says:

    So much of the American commentary about these “summits” ignores the interests and positions of South Korea and Japan. They have agency in international affairs and are not simply the puppets of Washington. The latter in particular is historically hostile to Korea and will not calmly accept a nuclear-armed North, especially with Trump making noises about how unfair the military alliance is with Japan.

    It’s also the case that US troops in South Korea have long been there as the northern anchor of a China containment policy, which Obama worked to strengthen by building relations with India, Vietnam and other nations in the region. Kim will presumably insist on the troops being withdrawn as part of any peace settlement, and it’s hard to see what rationale the US could give for refusing. Indeed withdrawing them is one of the bees Trump has had in his bonnet for many years. But if they go, the whole China containment policy will lie in ruins.

    In other words to the extent talks between America and North Korea achieve anything of substance, they will have potentially far-reaching consequences right throughout the Asia-Pacific. I’m sure Bolton understands this, which is why he has been busily trying to sabotage the talks. I’m not convinced Pompeo does, and would bet good money Trump himself is clueless.

  30. Smarter than trump says:

    @Stormy Dragon: do you recall “little rocket man” and I’ m not talking about Elton John here. Trump does not understand diplomacy. He started with being a juvenile name caller now acts like a loving a**kisser towards NK. It makes me want to vomit to hear him praise Kim. Kim is a brutal, murderer of his own people. No progress except for Kim getting to stand on the world stage being sucked up to by potus.

  31. @Ken_L:

    would bet good money Trump himself is clueless.

    The safest of bets.

  32. @Smarter than trump: He clearly thinks the threat and name-calling leads to pressure and concessions. He probably thinks his stroll into NK was a concession generated by his brilliant negotiating techniques.

  33. Andrew says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As well as his naïveté, Trump just wants to be the first President to have done it. And also a middle finger to Obama.

    Mostly, it just reminds me of the scene in Finding Nemo, when Nemo goes and touches the butt(boat).
    He knows he should not do it, but he wants to show off. Where does he end up?
    42 Wallaby Way. Sydney, Australia.

    Trump never learned that just because you can do something, does not mean you should.
    But, I guess that is only a lesson for people that face consequences for their actions.

    The Man-Child in Chief.

  34. @Andrew:

    Trump just wants to be the first President to have done it. And also a middle finger to Obama.

    Without a doubt.

    The Man-Child in Chief.

    Yup.

    Really, it is very much on-brand for his reality TV resume. It has the feeling of drama and spectacle without really meaning much in the end.

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: I’ve been to Panmunjom. The whole area surrounding the Peace Village is beautiful. I’d also signed up to take a tour into N.K. to visit the city of Gaeseong, but tensions arising between President Lee and Kim’s father forced the S.K. government to cancel that tour. I was sad about that 🙁 because I wanted to see the famous Gaeseong porcelain and maybe buy some for my sister-in-law.

    I hope you get the chance to travel outside the county you live in some time before you get to old to. Travel really broadens the horizons.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    So much of the American commentary about these “summits” ignores the interests and positions of South Korea and Japan.

    For NK from what I read while I was living in SK, that’s more of a feature than a bug. Kim’s father saw an advantage for NK in the possibility that he could convince the US to negotiate with him privately and then impose the settlement on the rest of the area. What that advantage was and what it meant from a practical standpoint, I was never quite able to suss out beyond destabilizing the relationship of the US with Japan, SK, and even China and Russia, potentially (to whatever degree those relationships are positive).

    Turns out Kim Jong-il was simply ahead of his times and didn’t even need to put nukes on the table to get that. He just needed to wait for Trump to arrive on the scene.