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The Second Trump-Kim Summit: The Devil Is in the Details

January 23, 2019 in Economics

By Eric Gomez

Eric Gomez

President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un will meet
for a second summit in late February, most likely
in Vietnam. The first Trump-Kim summit, held in
Singapore last June, was a historic event; for the first time, a
sitting U.S. president met with their North Korean counterpart.
There was not much substance to the Singapore summit, however,
which caused a diplomatic stalemate between Washington and
Pyongyang. While a second summit may break the current impasse,
many U.S. arms control experts have expressed concern that another summit will just
bring more pageantry instead of progress.

If Trump can use the
second summit with Kim to move away from sweeping statements of
denuclearization and focus on narrowly-defined issues, he could
break the current impasse and open the door to significant
progress.

The Trump administration should take these concerns to heart. A
lack of detail in the first summit was expected given the
increasingly threatening rhetoric and the real risk of armed conflict in 2017. It was
folly to expect Trump and Kim to reverse course entirely and
achieve a breakthrough with one summit after such a tense and
dangerous period. However, a repeat performance that is low on
substance will not be good for the United States, especially if
Trump continues making overly-optimistic statements about what he has
achieved.

Trump’s primary goal for the second summit should be moving away
from the sweeping declarations and promises made at
Singapore and toward more detailed agreements. To borrow from
baseball, instead of swinging for a grand slam Trump should just
try for a base hit.

Reining in U.S. goals and ambitions for the second summit would
better align the U.S. diplomatic approach with the much more
successful inter-Korean process. For instance, shortly before
Singapore, South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in met with Kim at Panmunjom for a summit that had
more style than substance. However, after this initial meeting, the
two Koreas made substantial progress on establishing working-level
diplomatic communication channels to work toward the lofty goals
set forth at Panmunjom. In late 2018, Moon visited Pyongyang for
another summit where the two Koreas signed a very-detailed military agreement designed to reduce tensions
along the demilitarized zone. North Korea’s implementation of the
inter-Korean military agreement shows that Kim will follow through
on his promises, so long as there are reciprocity and specificity
in the agreement.

The United States and South Korea have a different order of
priorities-the former is focused on denuclearization while the
latter wants denuclearization but sees a stable …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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