Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Explains What to Look for in a Trump-Kim Summit
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Explains What to Look for in a Trump-Kim Summit

Washington, D.C. — With news of a June 12 summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the Center for American Progress is out with a guide to the promise and pitfalls of a meeting between these unpredictable leaders.

Formal talks could eventually offer a path to denuclearization of North Korea, or at least jump-start diplomacy that can reduce tensions. At a minimum, the meeting should help gain insight into how Kim thinks and what he hopes to accomplish.

But the summit could also be all pomp and circumstance, giving the appearance of success with no tangible results. That could lead China, South Korea, and other countries to reduce economic sanctions without getting anything substantive in return. Some allies fear that Trump will give away too much just so he can trumpet a win.

“In the best-case scenario, this is the starting gun for what will be a diplomatic marathon, not a sprint,” said Michael Fuchs, lead author of the analysis and senior fellow at CAP, who previously served as a deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.”Trump needs to use this summit to set the framework for success going forward, not claim victory without extracting real concessions from North Korea. Be wary of Trump throwing U.S. allies under the bus for the appearance of a ‘win.’”

Some things to watch for:

  • Are there real North Korean concessions showing a true commitment to denuclearization?
  • How will verification of nuclear arms reduction work? Will North Korea agree to vigorous inspections?
  • What is Trump willing to give up?
  • Will the Trump administration have a unified message?
  • How do regional actors such as China, South Korea, and Japan respond?

Read the analysis: “Making Sense of the Trump-Kim Summit,” by Michael Fuchs and Abigail Bard.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at shananel@americanprogress.org or 202.478.6327.