What to Expect From the Trump-Kim Summit
An amicable meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, has added momentum to an apparent diplomatic rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula this year. But before US President Donald Trump starts celebrating, he should consider the challenges that lie ahead.
DENVER – Since the April 27 summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un, US President Donald Trump has sought, unsurprisingly, to portray himself as the mastermind behind inter-Korean diplomacy. But, despite the rays of hope emanating from the peninsula, Trump may come to regret having taken center stage, especially as his own summit with Kim draws closer.
In preparation for that event – now tentatively scheduled for late May or early June – Trump will likely eschew reading or listening to expert advice, and will allow himself to be buffeted by conflicting information. After all, he is reportedly unable to absorb comprehensive, organized policy briefings, and his opinions tend to reflect those of whomever he spoke to last. Beyond that, he is generally guided by a sense of indignation against his predecessors, especially President Barack Obama, for having been too gullible or unfocused to solve the problem at hand.
But the emotional Moon-Kim meeting in Panmunjom, the “peace village” on the border of the two Koreas, poses an enormous challenge for Trump, who wants a big, showy display of his own deal-making magic, so that he can tell the world, “Now you see the crisis; now you don’t.” Unfortunately, North Korea’s desire for nuclear weapons cannot simply be conjured away.