Trump and Kim on the same Page

Herb Boyd | 6/14/2018, 11:42 a.m.
The on and off again meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump finally happened Tuesday in Singapore, ...
President Donald Trump CNN photo

The on and off again meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump finally happened Tuesday in Singapore, although little is known about what transpired beyond their cordial exchanges after a five-hour session.

As usual, Trump praised the landmark summit and Kim, which were a far cry from the previous denunciations of North Korea and its leader.

“We both want something,” Trump told the press after the meeting. “We both are going to do something. And we have developed a very special bond. People are going to be very impressed. People are going to be very happy.”

Other than Trump promising to end the military exercises the U.S. conducts with South Korea, there were no details of substance from the meeting. It remains to be seen if Trump’s demands that North Korea dismantle and remove nuclear weapons, halt uranium enrichment and disable reactors, among other things, were on the table. Earlier reports indicated that Trump might have taken a step back from these demands as preconditions to forgo sanctions against the nation.

According to one statement from the meeting, the leaders signed an agreement in which North Korea “reaffirmed…an unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” and Trump agreed “to provide security guarantees” to North Korea.

There were four major points in the joint statement from Trump and Kim:

First, “The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.” Second, “The United States and DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” Third, “Reaffirming the April 27, 2018, Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Fourth, “The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”

Given the past volatility between the two men and the unpredictability of both, this statement might be no more than brinkmanship, another gambit of the presumed diplomatic overture—each man eager to appease his constituents. Even so, it appears at the moment they are on the same page, setting aside the rage and enmity that had characterized their relations.

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, a top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voiced his reservations about the meeting, saying, “The president has gone into a high-wire act without a safety net, and the preparation for this type of summit—while we applaud robust diplomacy—the preparation for this type of summit, to test the proposition of what Kim Jong-un is really willing to do or not, has not taken place.”

With such a wily opponent as Kim, there is concern that Trump, who believes he is the ultimate dealmaker, will be outfoxed.

Getting a deal is one thing, getting the right deal, Menendez added, is the real deal.