The New York Times reported Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump has been pressing his aides about whether he should proceed with the summit with North Korea to be held in three weeks. According to NYT, Trump was both surprised and angered by a statement issued on Wednesday by North Korea’s First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan, who said North Korea would never trade nuclear weapons for economic compensation of the United States. Trump is increasingly concerned that his summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could turn into a political embarrassment. Most analysts think of changes in North Korea’s attitude are conventional negotiation tactics, but Trump seems to be weighing the gains and losses of meeting with Kim.
A sudden change in North Korea’s attitude less than three weeks after discussing denuclearization at the inter-Korean summit on April 27 would be perplexing to Trump who is known as a negotiation expert. Many South Korean foreign affairs experts analyze it as a tactic to have more power at the North Korea-U.S. summit, but Trump and his aides seem to view the situation quite differently. This is also shown by that Trump made a phone call to Moon Jae-in on Sunday and asked the reason behind the disparity between Kim’s messages delivered by Moon and recent statements even though the South Korea-U.S. summit is planned to be held on Tuesday.
This can be an opportunity for Trump who has always been confident about his success to learn negotiation patterns of North Korea and how Pyongyang behaves when Beijing shows a vague sign to withdraw sanctions. North Korea has stopped making harsh remarks about the United States or the North Korea-U.S. summit although it turned its back on the South again by not sending an invitation to the South Korean Committee of the Solidarity for Practice of the South-North Joint Declaration for the June 15 commemoration event.
Some are concerned that Kim Jong Un would have noticed that Trump has been instilled by the Nobel peace prize likelihood and intend to make empty promises about denuclearization. North Korea should bear in mind that everything will go in vain if its denuclearization promises turn out to be a ploy to avert a crisis. If it continues to use obsolete tactics, it could miss the last opportunity to emerge from isolation and poverty and put itself into jeopardy.