Trump tweets about call with China's President Xi on North Korea

Howard TerryMar 11, 2018

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump takes input from a "diverse set of viewpoints", but added that "he knows it was his name on the ballot and he controls timing, content and tone". So it behooves observers to focus on the substance rather than getting lost in the atmospherics.

Some US officials and experts worry North Korea could buy time to build up and refine its nuclear arsenal if it drags out talks with Washington. "In particular, North Korean artillery could pose a significant challenge to USA air evacuation".

Explaining Trump's decision-making about the meeting, Tillerson said that the US had witnessed a shift from North Korea that became apparent when a South Korean delegation visited Pyongyang, then traveled to Washington to brief USA officials on the rare meeting. The careful choreography and delicate diplomacy required by worldwide talks have not always come naturally to the Trump team, and now its staff have on their hands one of the most high-profile bilateral summits in United States history.

What makes the upcoming summit even more complex for the United States is that China is both ally and adversary.

As for Kim, except for schooling in Switzerland and perhaps some vacations during that time, it is not clear that he has left North Korea.

Japanese government officials shared the concern of their USA counterparts that "dialogue for dialogue's sake was meaningless".

But the comments were a sign that an end to a standoff between the two countries over North Korea's nuclear weapon program is not imminent.

Resolving the issue is not so easy.

Senator Dan Sullivan, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it is clear that the maximum global pressure campaign U.S. has been focused on for months under the leadership of the Trump administration - United States sanctions mandated by Congress, additional sanctions authorised by the UN Security Council, the development of credible military options, and pressuring China to do much more regarding North Korea is having a real impact and clearly starting to bite.

"The fundamental definition of denuclearization is quite different between Washington and Pyongyang", Revere said, noting that as recently as January 1, Kim had vigorously reaffirmed the importance of nukes for North Korea's security.

Six months on, those high-stakes playground spats are part of a freakish diplomatic backdrop to a summit no-one saw coming. The Trump administration will have to face up to thorny realities of great power cooperation and competition.

He tweeted: "High-level contacts, such as summits and special envoys, are important evidence for North Korea that the world accepts the regime".

The president has previously shown his preference for working alone - with mixed results.

At the time, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that the exercises would go ahead once the Paralympics concluded.

Trump's advisers have harboured similar beliefs, but their boss appears ready to seize North Korea's olive branch. If it is not willing to contemplate cuts in USA forces, what incentive other than aid is left for Pyongyang?

Both events featured the participation of North Korean teams.

Hillary Clinton has warned that the Trump administration "was not recognizing the danger" in discussing nuclear disarmament with Pyongyang, and said Washington lacked experienced diplomats to handle the talks.

At some point in every president's first term, events emerge to test his management of global affairs.

The difficulty of that assignment is why Trump's predecessors balked a breakthrough encounter the President has now agreed to.

Unless the countries agree to a third-country location, which would likely be South Korea, experts see it as more likely that Trump will fly to Pyongyang.

The Abe administration's national security policy could also be called into question by the abrupt change orchestrated by Trump.

Two separate teams of U.S. analysts examining satellite images from January and February have concluded that the North's reactor at Yongbyon, which had appeared to be dormant, is making plutonium - a principal fuel of nuclear arms.

There are about 28,000 US troops stationed in South Korea, and more would be deployed to the peninsula in the event of war. "The firm stance of Japan and the United States will never be swayed".

Trump's latest unilateral moves come at a moment of vulnerability for the president. That's Daniel Russell, former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and a senior fellow at the Asia Society.

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