US, North Korea Still Far Apart on Key Details

Analysts are worried that Trump hasn't done his homework
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2018 6:24 AM CDT
Trump: Singapore Summit 'Could Work Out Very Nicely'
President Trump shakes hands as he meets with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ahead of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Monday, June 11, 2018, in Singapore.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump and Kim Jong Un have both arrived in Singapore ahead of Tuesday's historic summit—but while they are close to each other in location, in separate luxury hotels, the two sides are still far apart on key details. North Korea and the US are still not in agreement on what denuclearization could mean, or even what will be discussed on Tuesday, reports Reuters. Officials met for hours Monday to try to hammer out details of Tuesday's meeting, which Trump sounded optimistic about. "We’ve got a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I just think it’s going to work out very nicely," he told reporters after meeting with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In other developments:

  • Lowered expectations. Both sides have stressed that nobody should expect breakthroughs to happen after a single meeting, the Washington Post reports. North Korean officials and Trump have both described the summit as the first of possible multiple meetings and a gradual normalization of relations. Officials tell the Post that Tuesday's summit will start with Trump and Kim being photographed on the island of Sentosa. They will then talk for about an hour, with their interpreters as the only other people present, before they meet with advisers.

  • Jitters in China. Analysts tell the New York Times that after years of trying to rein in its troublesome ally, Beijing has become nervous about potentially losing it. Analysts say Chinese officials are worried that Pyongyang will move away from China to "embrace" the US, possibly by agreeing to denuclearization.
  • Clashing styles. Trump's instinct-driven negotiating style is about to encounter a nation that has mastered the "diplomacy of delay, obfuscation, and illusory promises of disarmament," according to CNN. Trump has alternately claimed to have done little preparation for the meeting and to have prepared "all his life." Diplomats say that if Trump really is relying on his gut instead of doing his homework, he risks making errors including making deals detrimental to allies Japan and South Korea.
  • Running bodyguards. Fox reports that Kim Jong Un's running bodyguards—one of six layers of security said to surround the North Korean leader—were seen in action after Kim arrived in Singapore. The men were seen jogging alongside the leader's vehicle.

  • History repeating itself? Harry Kazianis at the Hill argues that the summit is certain to end in a round of handshakes, smiles—and promises that North Korea is sure to end up breaking. He says that to get Pyongyang to prove it is serious about denuclearization, Trump should get the country to give up one or two of its nuclear weapons immediately.
  • Media feeding frenzy. Singapore has welcomed more than 3,000 journalists from across the world to cover the summit, an unprecedented number for the city-state. A large facility built for a Formula One race has been refurbished for the journalists, and local businesses have provided an impressive 20-dish buffet to feed them, the AP reports.
  • "A real test of success." The first face-to-face meeting of US and North Korean leaders is historic, "but a real test of success will be whether it actually leads to concrete, steady, prompt progress toward the twin goals of denuclearization and the easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association tells the Washington Post. "By definition that requires a common understanding of what 'denuclearization' and ‘peace’ entails and what the major action-for-action steps must be."
(Read more Kim Jong Un stories.)

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