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After 'Nice Letter' Summit Is Back On

President meets with top North Korean envoy
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2018 1:56 PM CDT
Updated Jun 1, 2018 2:48 PM CDT
Trump: Summit With North Korea Is Back On
President Trump talks with Kim Yong Chol after their meeting in the Oval Office.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – It's back on. President Trump on Friday declared that the summit between him and North Korea's Kim Jong Un will take place after all on June 12. Trump made the announcement after receiving a visit from one of Kim's top aides, Kim Yong Chol, who delivered a letter from his boss to Trump in the Oval Office, reports CNN. "We'll be meeting on June 12th in Singapore," Trump told reporters after the meeting. “It’s going to have to be a process, but relationships are building, and that’s a very good thing."

  • The letter: It hasn't been released, but Trump called it a "very nice letter." The Wall Street Journal, quoting a foreign government official, said the letter was "fairly basic." It reportedly made no big concessions or threats but said the North Korean leader was still interested in meeting with Trump.

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  • The meeting: Few details have emerged about what Trump and Kim Yong Chol talked about in their meeting, which lasted about 80 minutes, but Trump said they discussed "a lot" of issues, including sanctions, per the Washington Post.
  • Rare visit: Kim Yong Chol is the North's top nuclear arms negotiator and its former intelligence chief, and he has been individually sanctioned by the US. In fact, Kim needed a special waiver to enter the country. He becomes only the second North Korean official to meet with a sitting US president. The last time was back in October 2000, when Bill Clinton hosted a Pyongyang rep.
  • Possible outcomes: So what might come of the June 12 summit? Vox looks at possible scenarios, ranging from a potentially dangerous failure to reach no deal at all, to a smaller deal that results in more talks, to the North agreeing to de-nuclearize. However, the story notes that most observers think there is "basically zero chance" Kim will give up his entire nuclear arsenal. The big question is what happens if Trump refuses to accept anything less.
  • Lowering expectations: Trump's comments Friday suggested he did not expect a huge breakthrough later this month. “I’ve never said it happens in one meeting—you’re talking about years of hostility, years of problems, years of hatred between so many different nations," he said, per the Guardian.
  • Not about money: An analysis in the New York Times suggests that Trump will be making a mistake if he pins his argument on helping the North become prosperous. The gist is that Kim's regime is more concerned about security than money.
(Read more North Korea stories.)

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