US President Donald Trump’s detractors will be quick to claim that his abrupt departure from the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un marks a failure for the President.
Nothing is further from the truth.
Trump, in fact, is employing the same deal making strategies that earned him the title ‘master of the deal’.
In walking away — fairly amicably — from the negotiations early, Trump sent a clear message to both North Korea and China.
His message to Chinese President Xi Jinping is that he is willing to can any deal that doesn’t meet his expectations.
With US and Chinese negotiators inching towards agreement on a trade deal to lift painful US tariffs on Chinese exports, Xi will certainly take note of the latest developments. And with US growth figures showing a strong 2.9% annual GDP increase, Trump is in a very strong position to insist on real trade concessions from the Chinese.
Trump’s message to North Korea
Trump’s message to North Korea is even clearer. Play ball, or the crippling sanctions the US pushed through in 2017 and 2018 remain indefinitely.
The North Korean economy is already a shambles. The UN estimates that almost half the population is low on food. And the North Korean government is now holding out its hand for international food aid.
That puts Kim Jong-un in a delicate position. Little wonder then that he’s already vowed to meet with Trump again to continue negotiations on denuclearising. Kim also said the talks were ‘productive’, and he appreciated Trump’s ‘active efforts toward results’.
While Trump craftily kept the door open to future talks, he made no promises, keeping the heat on Kim as he faces a long train ride back home to his starving nation.
The White House said only that the, ‘respective teams look forward to meeting in the future.’
Trump agreed with Kim that the talks were productive and helped build relations, something the President finds vital in striking new deals. But he wasn’t about to agree to sanctions relief without a full commitment to rid the North of its nuclear capabilities.
As Reuters reports, Trump stated:
‘It was all about the sanctions. Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that… Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times. It was a friendly walk.’
A statement from South Korea, which is actively working towards ending its 70-year conflict with the North, said it was unfortunate no deal had been reached. However, they were encouraged that both sides had made progress.
Trump said Kim was willing to dismantle North Korea’s main nuclear facility at Yongbyon. But things got sticky when Kim said he wanted sanctions relief first.
According to Reuters, Trump mentioned some other facilities that would need to be taken down, apparently surprising the North Koreans who didn’t realise the US was aware of them.
Speaking at a news conference, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, ‘We asked him [Kim] to do more and he was unprepared to do that, but I’m still optimistic’.
Indeed, there are good reasons to remain optimistic that Trump will succeed in delivering a peace deal that has eluded every other world leader since 1953.
Speaking through an interpreter before Trump’s early departure, Kim indicated he was prepared to abandon his nuclear programs and weapons.
‘If I’m not willing to do that, I won’t be here right now,’ he said.
With that in mind, we expect Kim Jong-un to come with far more to offer the next time Trump flies across the globe to meet with him.
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