On Wednesday and Thursday, President Donald Trump will be meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the second time in a one-on-one summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, explained that the administration will say goodbye to the Obama administration’s policy of “praying” and “cowering” before Kim Jong Un. Despite being hopeful, Trump and Pompeo want to make sure that the public’s expectations of reaching a breakthrough or major concessions are reasonable. Pompeo has explained that he’s hoping for a “substantive step forward,” but he warned that “it may not happen, but I hope that it will.”
Trump is optimistic about a “continuation of the progress” that they started during their first meeting in Singapore last June. While at the Singapore summit, Kim explained that he was 100% committed to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” which in the past has meant that the North would denuclearize when the United States takes all of its troops out of South Korea and puts an end to military drills with the ally. Unfortunately, North Korea’s state media said in December that they had no intentions of denuclearizing until Washington removes any and all nuclear threats.
As Trump prepares to meet with Kim at the summit, he has stated that North Korea hasn’t tested nuclear weapons in several months and that as long as that continues, there’s no need to rush. While at a black-tie event for governors at the White House, Trump stated that he and the North Korean leader had “developed a very, very good relationship.” He continued by saying, “We see eye-to-eye, I believe, but you’ll be seeing it more and more over the next couple of days. I don’t want to rush anybody, I just don’t want testing. As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy.”
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that he was leaving early on Monday to attend the meeting in Hanoi. He also said that Kim understood that “without nuclear weapons, his country could fast become one of the great economic powers anywhere in the World.” The U.S.- South Korean alliance, which was created during the 1950-53 Korean War, won’t be up for negotiation during the summit. But, some people believe that the future of the alliance could be in doubt, and Trump may eventually pull some of the 28,500 troops out of South Korea. On Friday, Trump explained that they would not be talking about removing some of the troops at the summit, but if South Korea and Japan refuse to pay more for joint military activities, then Trump would have to rethink his decision.
“President Trump has also said this is going to take time. There may have to be another summit. We may not get everything done this week,” explained Mike Pompeo. “There’s been no change in U.S. policy since the time I’ve been secretary of state and, frankly, even before that when I was CIA Director. Our objectives are clear, our mission is clear. President Trump’s also said this is going to take time. There may have to be another summit. We may not get everything done this week. We hope we’ll make a substantial step along the way.” Pompeo also added: “I’ve spent a lot of time with Chairman Kim. My time is on the ground today, continuing to flesh out paths forward, developing a roadmap for a path forward between the two countries. We’re determined to achieve that. It’s important for the world’s security.”
When asked whether North Korea has given any indications that they were willing to provide an inventory of their nuclear arsenal, or even surrender their weapons, Pompeo said: “In June of last year, in Singapore, Chairman Kim unequivocally stated he would denuclearize his country. There were other pillars that we committed to as well. We’ve made progress on some, less so on others. This is a complicated process. I was CIA director at one point. The history is difficult. The previous administration’s policy was to allow the North Koreans to test [nuclear weapons], pray they’d stop, and then cower when they threatened us. Test, pray, and cower. That’s been upended by President Trump.” Pompeo believes that the commitment Kim made “had substantially taken down the risk to the American people.”
In 2010, after North Korea sank a South Korean naval ship, former President Obama asked the military to prepare with South Korea to be ready to eliminate any kind of aggression from North Korea. Throughout most of his presidency, Obama continuously criticized and warned North Korea for testing their nuclear weapons. He even went so far as to ask the government of China to help get rid of some of the aggression coming from the North. Since Trump became president, though, North Korea has drastically slowed down on their nuclear testing. “We’ve put real economic pressure on the North Koreans. We’ve built out … the world’s coalition to communicate to Chairman Kim that now is the time, now is the moment — and I hope we’ll make real progress on that this week,” said Pompeo.
After the summit in Singapore, Trump tweeted that there was no longer a nuclear threat in North Korea. Trump and Kim continue to work on their political relationship. “Relationships matter. They affect everything in our lives. Whether it’s grand strategy and denuclearization, or simpler things. Relationships absolutely matter. It’s important that the two leaders are able to effectively communicate,” stated Pompeo.
On Sunday, Trump wrote on Twitter that he had a “great relationship with Chairman Kim.” He also said that “President Xi of China has been very helpful in his support of my meeting with Kim Jong Un. The last thing China wants are large scale nuclear weapons right next door. Sanctions placed on the border by China and Russia have been very helpful.”
Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has expressed that he believes that the president needs to be “careful” with what he offers to others. “Nothing is clear, and I think as a result we could run the risk that Kim is given concessions which are not accompanied by real concessions that the United States is receiving in return from Kim and his regime,” said Markey.