The Guardian: Trump plans new Kim summit a year after threat to destroy North Korea25 September 2018 | 03:46 | FOCUS News Agency
Trump was speaking at an appearance in New York on Monday with the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, who claimed that North Korea’s decision to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme was irreversible.
The two presidents were meeting on the margins of the UN general assembly, where they signed a new bilateral trade agreement, and Moon said he was bringing a new message from Kim to Trump about a second summit.
“Chairman Kim has been really very open and terrific, frankly. And I think he wants to see something happen,” Trump declared. “So we have done … done very well with respect to North Korea.
“We’ll be having a second summit with Chairman Kim in the not too distant future,” the president added. “And I think within a pretty short period of time, that will be announced and its location will be determined.”
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has been given the task of setting up a second summit and he told reporters in New York that he hoped to fly to Pyongyang soon.
Trump’s lavish compliments for Kim represent a remarkable turnaround from Trump’s first appearance at the UN general assembly, almost exactly a year ago, when he hurled insults at Kim and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea.
Since then, the two leaders have held a summit in Singapore in June, which Trump hailed as a breakthrough in getting North Korea to disarm. But there has been very little, if any, progress in that direction. One rocket engine test site has been partially dismantled but it was for liquid fuel engines, while North Korea has switched to solid fuel for its missiles.
At a meeting with Moon in Pyongyang last week, Kim made a more substantial offer to close facilities at its main nuclear complex at Yongbyon, contingent on the US making unspecified “corresponding measures”.
Moon claimed that Kim’s stated wish to “denuclearise the Korean peninsula” meant that Pyongyang’s decision “to relinquish its nuclear programme has been officialized to a degree that not even those within North Korea can reverse”.
Moon showered Trump with praise, declaring: “Thanks to your bold decision and new approach, we are in the process of solving a problem that no one has been able to solve in the decades past.”
Nuclear experts are more sceptical over what North Korea has offered in terms of disarmament.
“These are good soundbites and probably what the Americans want to hear,” Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “But under no definition of reverse could I say that North Korea couldn’t make more or better nuclear weapons than it does now.”
The Pyongyang regime has made offers to disarm over earlier decades, both Trump and Moon have strong political incentives to portray negotiations with Kim as a historic success.
The US president similarly described the trade deal with Seoul as a breakthrough and completely unlike an earlier deal, known as Korus, negotiated by the Obama administration.
“This is a brand new agreement,” he told reporters. “This is not an old one, rewritten.”
However, James Schoff, a former senior adviser for east Asia policy at the Pentagon, now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: “Trump’s claim that this is a new agreement is not accurate, since only a few portions of the original deal have been reworked (and they used the amendment process in Korus to get it done).”
Schoff added that the agreement signed with Moon would fall apart unless it exempts South Korea from future car tariffs that Trump plans to establish.
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