foreign policy

Trump and Kim Jong-un to Meet

Demonstrators dressed as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R) and US President Donald Trump (L) embrace during a peace rally in Seoul on November 5, 2017. (ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators dressed as Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump embrace during a peace rally in Seoul on November 5, 2017.

In an apparent by-product of post-Olympics talks between North and South Korea, Kim Jong-un has proposed, and President Trump has accepted, the idea of a meeting between the two to sort out the bilateral issues that have so often threatened to result in war.

A South Korean delegation brought a letter from the North Korean autocrat to Trump. And he didn’t take long to informally respond:

This development comes on the heels of reports from South Korea that Kim was expressing a willingness to abandon his nuclear program in exchange for assurances about the security of his regime. If that’s the case, it would come as a surprise to the U.S. diplomats who have been trying to cut that sort of deal — perhaps enhanced by economic assistance to Pyongyang — for years (dating back at least to the last three administrations).

It seems that Kim told the South Koreans, presumably with the intention of sending that information to Washington, that he was willing to suspend nuclear testing in anticipation of the talks. This is probably what emboldened Trump to claim that his condition for direct talks with the regime — “concrete steps towards denuclearization” — were being met. That’s one of many assumptions that could be tested between now and the time these two men with large egos actually meet. Let’s hope the people advising the president make it clear that he should restrain himself from boasting that getting tough with the North Koreans is what brought them to the table.

In any event, as Winston Churchill was once quoted as saying: “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”

Trump and Kim Jong-un to Meet