Now that the Singapore summit with Kim Jong Un is back on, President Trump needs to seriously prepare for his upcoming meeting with Kim Jong Un lest it become a photo-op or hijacked by the North Koreans for their own objectives, said commentators on U.S. Sunday-morning political TV talk shows.
Senior government officials dealing with the North Korean issue stayed away from Washington TV studios on Sunday morning, but Friday’s meeting at The White House with Kim Yong Chol was tackled on ABC’s This Week and Face The Nation on CBS.
“He has to be dramatically prepared,” said Bill Richardson, former U.N. Ambassador, on ABC’s This Week. “Kim Jong Un will be very prepared. He knows his nuclear programs well.”
Richardson is in a good position to offer advice, having sat down with the North Korean government in the past.
“I believe the danger now is that this’ll be a gigantic photo-op,” he said, warning the North Korean negotiators will try to maneuver the U.S. into a corner.
“They never say no. They’re relentless, they’re focused. And now our position has shifted dramatically. Now we are saying we are for and OK with a phased denuclearization. Still we should have the summit. Still we can get gains. What is success? I think success is some kind of curbing of the use of nuclear and missile testing, destruction of weapons, missile and nuclear, maybe of a phase process.”
The position shift he referred to came in Trump’s comments after his Friday meeting when he said that the Singapore summit might be the first in a multi-stage process. That’s an apparent departure from earlier indications that Trump wanted to come away from the summit with a deal that ended North Korea’s nuclear program.
On Face The Nation, Robert Gallucci, former U.S. Ambassador and chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea in 1994, advised the president and everyone else to keep focused on substance.
“I think all of us should try to not focus on the shiny objects and focus on the substance,” he said. “The substance that brought us to a crisis, for almost for a full year, was a nuclear weapons capability mated with a ballistic missile capability that could reach the United States of America.”
Those shiny objects include a formal end to the Korean war, said Jung Pak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute.
“I thought it was notable that the president spent so much of the conversation with the press after the Kim Yong Chol meeting talking about the peace issue,” she said. “Amd that was concerning for me because that’s probably what the North Koreans mentioned in the meeting, and they probably know it hits a chord with the president who seems pretty interested in ending this Korean war.”
She underlined that any declaration of peace needs to be accompanied by denuclearization, and if that doesn’t happen it would be a “fake peace.”
And denuclearization is still the bit we’re still guessing about.
“It’s very unclear. I mean, we still don’t have an agreement on denuclearization, just even the definition of denuclearization,” said Sue Mi Terry, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, on This Week.
“Is North Korea willing to denuclearize as we define it?,” she asked. “I don’t think [complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization] is really a realistic expectation. I mean, we still have to set it up as a goal but there was a Stanford study that was just released that said verification process is going to take 15 years.”
Pak picked up on the same point on CBS.
“For the most part it would require mental gymnastics for us to think that Kim Jong Un is going to give up nuclear weapons on the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s founding. Something that he completed that his grandfather and his father were unable to do. So to give that away for a McDonald’s franchise in North Korea is, I think, is something that does not make logical sense.”
She was referring to a Washington Post story that said North Korea wants a McDonald’s as part of the deal with Trump.
So maybe hamburgers are back on the summit menu after all.
Featured image: United States Department of Defense
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