President Donald Trump emerged from an Oval Office meeting with a top North Korean nuclear negotiator on Friday with the news that he would yet again meet with Kim Jong Un.
“President Donald J. Trump will meet with Kim Yong Chol, Vice Chairman of the Workers Party of Korea and Chairman of the Korea Asia Pacific Peace Committee, today at 12:15pm in the Oval Office. They will discuss relations between the two countries and continued progress on North Korea’s final, fully verified denuclearization,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told pool reporters.
The news comes as the White House admits stalled progress on Pyongyang removing its nuclear weapons, which was the stated goal of its North Korean diplomatic engagement.
Trump, who said he had not slept the night before, emerged from the first summit with Kim resolute in his belief that North Korea would denuclearize, despite getting no such promises on paper.
In the intervening six months, North Korea has taken no such actions and continues to build missiles.
While Trump and Kim continue to refer to improved bilateral relations, recent talk out of North Korea has indicated the US’s worst fears: that North Korea isn’t serious about denuclearizing and is using talks to ease sanctions pressure.
Building global support for sanctions enforcement on North Korea represented an early success of Trump’s presidency, but since Trump met with Kim, trade with North Korea has resumed. China, especially, has relaxed its sanctions enforcement towards Pyongyang.
In January, Kim met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and expressed a desire to hold a second, more productive summit with Trump.
So far, North Korea has not agreed to take any meaningful steps towards denuclearization. Recently, North Korea stated essentially that the US must denuclearize and withdraw its forces from South Korea and Japan to secure any concessions from Pyongyang.
Experts dismiss the idea that the US would denuclearize as a nonstarter.
In 2017, the world saw the US and North Korea reach the brink of war, with both sides trading nuclear threats.
Since 2018, North Korea has not tested a single missile or nuclear device, and Trump has sharply reduced US war games with South Korea, a key irritant in the relationship with Pyongyang.