Trump agreed to nothing with North Korea — and completely defied the experts


U.S. President Donald Trump during a bilateral meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi on Feb. 28, 2019.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump during a bilateral meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi on Feb. 28, 2019.

All told, Lisa Collins, a fellow with the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said she did not think the Hanoi summit had undone the benefits of last year’s historic first meeting between Trump and Kim in Singapore.

“I do think there’s something to be gained by the second meeting. Obviously President Trump still feels like he has a decent relationship with Kim Jong Un,” she said. “I think it’s good that they got further in their talks on what sites the North Koreans would need to dismantle in order for the United States to lift certain sanctions, so I think that is actual progress.”

That was the message from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said after the summit that the two leaders had made “real progress” during their talks: “We are certainly closer today than we were 36 hours ago.”

Asked during the post-summit news conference if he was still pushing for North Korea’s “complete, verifiable denuclearization,” Trump declined to lay out his position.

“I don’t want to say that to you because I don’t want to put myself in that position from the standpoint of negotiations — but, you know, we want a lot to be given up,” he said.

Analysts from political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said in a post-summit note that they were “not concerned” that the lack of an agreement in Hanoi would lead to a renewed rise in tensions. Rather, they said Trump’s “dodging” of questions about his commitment to a fully denuclearized North Korea “will fuel speculation that the U.S. has already given up on this goal — which would in itself be a major concession without North Korea having apparently provided much, if anything, in return.”

As for whether Kim will again launch ballistic missiles beyond his borders — a practice he’s stopped since 2017 — Trump said he did not expect any new provocations. The president claimed that Kim promised him over dinner on Wednesday that North Korea “is not going to do testing of rockets and nuclear.”

Trump added: “I trust him and I take him at his word.”


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