International

The uncertainty, fear, and hope of the Trump-Kim summit

With Tuesday's historic summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un upon us, it remains utterly unclear what they will be talking about, what can be achieved, and whether any of it will be worthwhile. Is the summit, as the president said on Saturday, a "one-time shot" to resolve disagreements between the U.S. and the DPRK? Or is it, as President Trump said just last week, a "getting to know you meeting" that can be followed by a series of confidence-building measures and follow-ups by lower level officials? As usual, President Trump's wildly contradictory statements offer few clues as to what will actually transpire this week in Southeast Asia. Whatever the parameters, Trump, Un, and their entourages will meet on Tuesday on a Singapore atoll once known as "The Island Where Death Lurks Behind." It could be one of history's shortest summits. On Saturday, the president claimed that "I think within the first minute, I'll know" whether his counterpart is interested in a deal and able to deliver one. There will definitely be no weeks-long display of failed cajoling and hand-holding of the sort that took place at President Bill Clinton's last-ditch attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at Camp David in 2000. Assuming that they too share a "dragon energy," Trump is hoping that Kim will quickly agree to trade away his nuclear weapons stash for diplomatic normalization, sanctions relief, and an economic opening to the outside world.


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