What to Look for at US-North Korea Summit: Analysis - NBC New York
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What to Look for at US-North Korea Summit: Analysis

Here's a look at some of the main things actual success — as opposed to partisan bluster — will almost certainly require

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Secretary of State Pompeo Previews N. Korea Summit

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Monday that ongoing talks between the United States and North Korea were advancing well, but stressed the meeting would be the beginning of a process that would "set the conditions for future talks." (Published Monday, June 11, 2018)

    There will be a lot of spin going on when President Donald Trump emerges from his summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday.

    The summit itself is a major breakthrough. Never before has a sitting U.S. president held talks with the leader of North Korea, which has technically been at war with the United States longer than any other country in American history — the 1950-53 Korean War ended in what was intended to be a temporary armistice.

    Both leaders have strong incentives to declare the meeting a success, regardless of what happens. And they also have a lot of incentive to try to pass off shiny objects as real breakthroughs. The stakes could be very high, or the summit could turn out to be little more than a first date.

    Is there a way to tell hype from real progress?

    Trump: I May Invite Kim Jong Un to the White House

    [NATL] Trump: I May Invite Kim Jong Un to the White House

    President Donald Trump floated the idea of inviting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to the United States, and possibly even to the White House, during a joint press conference between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 

    (Published Thursday, June 7, 2018)

    Here's a look at some of the main things actual success — as opposed to partisan bluster — will almost certainly require.

    DELIVERABLES
    If Trump and Kim are serious about these talks, they will come to the table with something the other wants.

    Since they share a penchant for big, splashy actions, there has been a lot of speculation Kim may agree to hand over some of his nuclear weapons, fissile material or actual missiles, and that Trump is looking at some kind of peace declaration.

    Any of the above would be dramatic and potentially game-changing developments.

    But beware of the one-off. That's where the summit could devolve into nothing more than a theatrical diversion. While some meaningful moves need to be made right up front, it's unreasonable to demand immediate solutions and counterproductive to seek flashy quick fixes. The success of a summit of this magnitude isn't measured in a day. It's a process.

    Unless, of course, it fails.

    Trump Announces North Korean Nuclear Summit Is Back On

    [NATL] Trump Announces North Korean Nuclear Summit Is Back On

    President Donald Trump announced Friday the North Korea nuclear summit is back on for a June 12 meeting in Singapore. The announcement came after Trump met with Kim Yong Chol, a top deputy to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in the Oval Office for more than an hour.

    (Published Friday, June 1, 2018)

    FLEXIBILITY
    The Trump administration claims to have forced Kim to the negotiating table with its hard-line "maximum pressure" policy of tough sanctions and heightened political pressure. But breakthroughs in talks will most likely involve a lot of give and take.

    Ultimately, Washington's objective is the "complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization" of North Korea. That's a very tall order. Even if Kim wants to go down that road, which isn't entirely clear, it would likely take years and require lots of further talks and agreements about how to monitor and verify the process. So, realistically, Washington is going to have to show some flexibility on the timeline toward its final goal.

    Kim, on the other hand, is going to have to bend on something significant if he wants to keep the momentum going. He has already announced several concessions — he released three American prisoners, ordered the closure of his nuclear test site and declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile launches. All are meaningful displays of a willingness to talk. But they are also half-measures, at best.

    A sure sign of progress would be if both sides agree to something that won't come easily, or can't easily be undone.

    COMMITMENTS/NEXT STEPS
    Friendly words of late notwithstanding, there's a lot of bad blood between Washington and Pyongyang. Fixing it will take time.

    If progress is to be made, talks between the two countries — and not necessarily between the two leaders — must continue.

    Trump Revokes Brennan's Security Clearance

    [NATL] Trump Revokes Brennan's Security Clearance

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Wednesday that President Donald Trump is revoking former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance. Brennan has been a prominent critic of Trump's policies, words and actions.

    (Published Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018)

    Watch for a joint statement that announces concrete next steps. Working-level discussions to work out whatever agreements are made by Trump and Kim are absolutely crucial because it is generally in the implementation and interpretation of agreements between the U.S. and North Korea that they have broken down.

    Talking for talking sake, without any agreement to address the North's nuclear and missile programs, might serve Kim's purposes but would be a big mistake for Washington.