In the doozy that was 2018, with an endless barrage of news developments, it’s easy to forget that President Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong-un held an unprecedented meeting in mid-2018.
Following that meeting, the two leaders signed a document outlining their agreements, but it became quickly apparent the two sides had very different understandings of what had transpired and what either country was agreeing to. The document was only 400 words long and had no actual next steps delineated.
As commentators remarked, it was mostly a photo op – though even that was significant given the traditionally frosty relationship between the two nations.
At the time, President Trump said, “Our conversation was open, honest, direct and very, very productive. We produced something that is beautiful.”
Critics point out that not much was actually produced and as NPR reported in November,
“…after five months of canceled meetings and muted statements of dissatisfaction by both countries, experts say there is no sign of progress toward the Singapore goal of so-called ‘denuclearization’ of the North.”
And now the New York Times reports:
“Nearly two years into his presidency and more than six months after his historic summit meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea, President Trump finds himself essentially back where he was at the beginning in achieving the ambitious goal of getting Mr. Kim to relinquish his nuclear arsenal.”
In Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Day televised speech, he reiterated the same point he’s made every year: North Korea isn’t going to budge on dismantling its nuclear programs until international sanctions are lifted.
After all the positive buzz from the summit between Kim Jong-un and Trump, it turns out North Korea’s demands haven’t changed at all and no headway has been made.
But as Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are quick to point out, the tone of the message was markedly more muted than previous years. The North Korean leader wants Trump to simply accept that North Korea will have nuclear capabilities, something no U.S. president has ever done. But at least there’s less fire and fury rhetoric?