US President Donald Trump‘s is planning to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. This unprecedented meeting signifies a change in the relationship between the two leaders who nearly incited a nuclear war last year.
The meeting will take place sometime before May, but the location has not been decided.
According to Adam Mount, senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, Kim Jong Un has not left North Korea since taking office. “It’s possible the summit will be in the Panmunjom DMZ border complex,” Mount said, but due to Pyongyang’s security situation, a meeting in the capital would be “impossible”.
For the North Koreans, the meeting itself is a triumph.
Jeffrey Lewis, associate professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said that “[North Koreans have] been desperate since the Clinton Administration to get an American president to visit, so this has been a top North Korean foreign policy priority for years.”
In the past, former US Presidents (Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton) met members of the ruling Kim family, but the meetings only happened after they’d left office.
The US has repeatedly called for North Korea’s denuclearization. US President Trump wants to see “credible moves” towards denuclearization by Pyongyang, before talks could even begin.
However, experts advise Trump to lower his expectations and say that Kim is unlikely to give up his nuclear capabilities.
Elsewhere in the world, reactions to news of the meeting are mixed.
The meeting is a victory for South Korean President Moon, who has been pushing for a rapprochement with Pyongyang since he came into office, but some South Koreans are more skeptical.
Duyeon Kim, visiting senior fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum, said, “South Korea conservatives will be cautious about the latest news because they’ve seen the North break their promises before and they’ve seen the North use dialogue as a ploy to buy time.”
Beijing cautiously welcomed news of the meeting.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, viewed the development as positive, and said that it was a moment to show “political courage.” China’s cooperation on implementing sanctions against North Korea is key to the US’s campaign for North Korea’s denuclearization.
Experts have low expectations for the outcome of the meeting.
According to Lewis, the meeting is unlikely to result in denuclearization, but it could help Trump and Kim build a “friendly rapport,” leading to reduced tensions, similar to US President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.