North Korea Summit Should Be About Substance, Not Flash

    Abby Bard

    Security, Asia

    From left, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and national security adviser John Bolton attend a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House in Washington. U.S., May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    The Trump team needs to regroup in order to develop, in close coordination with Japan and South Korea, a unified strategy that protects the interests of America and its allies.

    With the Capella Hotel in Singapore announced as the site of the June 12 summit between U.S. president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, it appears that the two are on track to meet next week after a tumultuous month in their relationship. On May 24, the White House released a letter from Trump to Kim canceling their much-anticipated summit, only to reinstate it on June 1. The way the Trump administration executed these decisions is another example of how its conduct over the past months has hurt U.S. leverage and alliances in regard to North Korea and obscures the fact that the administration’s priority should be substantive progress, not summit showmanship.

    Since the March 8 announcement of a Trump-Kim meeting, diplomacy has seemed almost too easy. There were signals that gave hope that maybe this time, North Korea would actually make good on its deals. Kim went on a charm offensive, meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping twice and holding a much-hullabalooed meeting with South Korean president Moon Jae-in. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to North Korea twice and insisted that Kim Jong Un was on the same page about denuclearization as the United States.

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