This is not encouraging:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, fresh from a trip to North Korea and a meeting with ruler Kim Jong-un, claimed Sunday that Kim shares the United States’ objectives.
“When I said earlier this week that I think Chairman Kim shares the objectives of the American people, I am convinced of that,” Pompeo told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. “Now the task is for President Trump and he to meet to validate the process by which this would go forward, to set out those markers so that we can negotiate this outcome.”
Pompeo said the United States would offer “security assurances” to Kim and sanctions relief in exchange for the denuclearization of North Korea.
Of course Pompeo is keen to build up the optimism and the positive momentum prior to the Kim-Trump meeting, but this level of puppy-dog enthusiasm is absurd, and rather encourages the view that the US is being dangerously naive here.
Trudy Rubin is more realistic:
A glance at past North Korean behavior patterns should temper Trump’s expectations. Forewarned should be (but may not be) forearmed.
In the 1980s, South Korean and Western journalists were allowed once a year to cross the demarcation line from the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to the North, through the building where the 1953 truce was signed. (There still is no official peace treaty.) Penned into a plaza rimmed by North Korean guards, we were confronted by a phalanx of North Korean men wearing Kim Il-Sung buttons who screamed at us the entire time.
By 1992, the standoff at the DMZ was less hostile: That year the two Koreas signed a declaration pledging to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. In 1994, North Korea pledged, in a framework accord with the United States, to eliminate its nuclear weapons. Both promises were abandoned.
By my next visit to the DMZ in 2005, the area was flooded with buses full of South Korean tourists. Later that year, in six-party talks, including China, Russia, the United States, Japan, and South Korea, Pyongyang committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and nuclear programs. Didn’t happen.
In other words, there’s nothing new about North Korean talk of denuclearization – or the release of the three U.S. prisoners held in Pyongyang (spare a thought for U.S. student/prisoner Otto Warmbier, who was returned in 2017 in a coma and died). Suffice it to say, North Korea is now believed to have at least 60 nuclear weapons, with intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the U.S. mainland.
Kim believes his bomb and missile tests have propelled North Korea into the ranks of nuclear states. None of the Korea experts I’ve interviewed think Kim will give up all his nuclear weapons. They say the word denuclearization means something very different to Kim and to Trump....
“The deal the North Koreans talk about the most is not Libya,” says Michael Green, national security adviser on Asia to George W. Bush and now a vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s Nixon and Mao — that’s the deal they talk about. Nixon let China keep its nuclear weapons and didn’t pressure them on human rights. What Kim really wants is for the United States to treat him as a nuclear weapons state.”
As for the White House demand that North Korea agree to “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization [referred to as CVID]” – Green says, “That is not something Kim has any intention of doing.”...
Meantime, Kim has already milked huge benefits from Trump’s agreement to meet him, which gives him recognition as a major global player. Kim’s father sought meetings with Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, but never got them.... Kim will be playing the optics of the summit with a skill that matches or outdoes Trump’s theatrics and with a clarity about what he wants and what he will pay for it.
The good news is that superficial talks are better than another war in Asia. The bad news: If Trump falls for his own hype, he may be outwitted by a showman who can best him at this game.
Judging by Pompeo's remarks, the chances that Trump and the US team will be outwitted by a smarter political operative are looking increasingly strong. Kim, let's not forget, now has China's President Xi - a sharp and ruthless political player if ever there was one - whispering in his ear.