SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — After a yr of threats and diatribes, U.S. President Donald Trump and third-generation North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have agreed to fulfill face-to-face for talks concerning the North’s nuclear program.

It stays to be seen whether or not a summit, if it takes place, might result in any significant breakthrough after an unusually provocative yr. North Korea examined its strongest nuclear weapon so far and test-launched three intercontinental ballistic missiles theoretically able to putting the U.S. mainland.

Will there be a breakthrough? Failure? Or merely the beginning of one other lengthy and troublesome course of meant to take away the North’s nuclear capabilities?

Here is a take a look at what could lie forward and the challenges that stay:



Analysts say Trump’s choice to just accept Kim’s invitation for a summit and to do it by Could might be linked partly to a need to say a major achievement in his most troublesome overseas coverage problem earlier than the U.S. midterm elections in November.

Kim, alternatively, appears determined to save lots of a sanctions-battered North Korean economic system.

Each leaders have pursuits in putting an enormous deal, mentioned Cheong Seong-Chang, a senior analyst at South Korea’s Sejong Institute. Ought to it occur, the Could summit between Trump and Kim will come shortly after a deliberate April assembly between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

It is doubtless that North Korea will even push for summits with China, Russia and Japan later within the yr to additional escape of its isolation, Cheong mentioned.

Trump will doubtless attempt to obtain one thing dramatic in his assembly with Kim, mentioned Hong Min, an analyst at Seoul’s Korea Institute for Nationwide Unification, together with a potential trade of verbal commitments on the denuclearization of North Korea and a peace treaty between the 2 nations.



The US and North Korea will doubtless be speaking fairly a bit in coming months and perhaps even exchanging high-level delegations to arrange the logistics of the summit.

One of many largest questions is the place it can happen.

The US would favor Washington, whereas North Korea will need Trump to return to Pyongyang, its capital.

Except the nations conform to a third-country location, which might doubtless be South Korea, consultants see it as extra doubtless that Trump will fly to Pyongyang.

Whereas no incumbent U.S. president has ever set foot in North Korea, Trump is perhaps keen to turn into the primary as a result of it could match the strong-willed, in-your-face kind of management he tries to venture, Hong mentioned.

It is exhausting to think about Kim going to Washington as a result of he’s a lot much less diplomatically skilled; the deliberate assembly with Moon in April might be his first with any state chief since he took energy in 2011.

They might additionally meet within the truce village of Panmunjom within the Demilitarized Zone between the rival Koreas or, Hong mentioned, the southern South Korean resort island of Jeju.



An enormous query might be whether or not Trump can settle for a freeze of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program relatively than its elimination, mentioned Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea skilled at Seoul’s Dongguk College.

Kim will doubtless need to maintain some nukes as a deterrent, however that is perhaps exhausting for Trump to tolerate when he spent a lot time harshly criticizing his predecessor, Barack Obama, for allegedly standing by and watching as North Korea turned a nuclear risk.

Nonetheless, Kim may categorical a firmer dedication to denuclearization to Trump, together with giving a full report on the North’s present nuclear weapons arsenal and permitting thorough worldwide verification as soon as the denuclearization course of takes maintain, mentioned Choi Kang, vice chairman of Seoul’s Asan Institute for Coverage Research.

Whereas some consultants speculate that North Korea may ask for a halt of annual navy drills between the US and South Korea and even the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula, Choi mentioned it is significant that Kim, at the least in line with South Korean presidential official Chung Eui-yong, mentioned he understands that the joint navy workouts between the allies “should proceed.” This indicators an vital departure from the previous when the North totally rejected the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

Kim may even free a number of Americans at the moment detained within the North to brighten the ambiance of his summit with Trump, Choi mentioned.



The whirlwind occasions of the previous months is perhaps in comparison with 1994, when former U.S. President Invoice Clinton concluded a serious nuclear settlement between Washington and Pyongyang.

Beneath the “Agreed Framework,” North Korea halted development of two reactors the US believed have been for nuclear weapons manufacturing in return for 2 different nuclear energy reactors that might be used to offer electrical energy however not bomb gasoline, and 500,000 annual metric tons of gasoline oil for the North.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright traveled to Pyongyang in 2000, and there have been talks of a summit between Clinton and then-North Korean chief Kim Jong Il, the daddy of Kim Jong Un. However there was no association earlier than George W. Bush’s election. The Agreed Framework broke down after U.S. intelligence companies mentioned North Korea was pursuing a second method to make bombs, utilizing enriched uranium.

North Korea is clearly a special nation than it was twenty years in the past, holding a professional nuclear program as a bargaining chip. However Trump, in simply his second yr in workplace and dealing with a equally strong-willed chief wanting to straight break a diplomatic impasse, might be in a greater place to chop a significant take care of North Korea than Clinton was on the finish of his presidency.

“Chemistry smart, Trump and Kim may get alongside; they each attempt to be daring and might be wanting to strike a deal,” mentioned Choi. “After years of diplomatic stalemate over the North’s nuclear program, we might use an injection of top-down choice making.”


Observe Kim Tong-hyung on Twitter at @KimTongHyung.

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