N. Korea Talks Collapse Over Sanctions Relief and Poor Summit Planning
President Trump's negotiations with Kim Jong-un collapsed after the two leaders failed to agree on any steps toward nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula. Trump blamed the failure on N. Korea's desire for immediate sanctions relief saying, “They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that ..."
New York Times: "Mr. Trump said that Mr. Kim had agreed to take an important step toward dismantling a central part of his nuclear program — the Yongbyon enrichment facility — but that Mr. Kim said he would do so only if all sanctions were lifted."
BBC: The US president also suggested in his news conference that Mr Kim had offered only the destruction of Yongbyon and not North Korea's entire nuclear apparatus.
President Trump and American negotiators, correctly, want much more progress on denuclearization before they will consider sanctions relief, but the entire episode begs the question of why the US delegation didn't know this weeks before the summit. Long-time diplomat and president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass captured it well this morning:
Richard N. Haass via Twitter: "No deal better than a bad deal, and Potus right to walk. But this should not have happened. Busted summit is risk you run when too much faith placed in personal relations w leader like Kim, when summit inadequately prepared, and when president signaled he was confident of success."
And Haass's last point is critical. Kim knew Trump needed some sort of deal after building anticipation around the meeting for weeks so the N. Korean leader never felt pressure to give in to US demands. And that equation is unlikely to change. N. Korea needs sanctions relief, but Kim is constantly reminded by Trump's fawning comments of how much the President needs a foreign policy victory heading into the 2020 election.
If President Trump wants to change that dynamic, he would be well served in spending less time apologizing for Kim's despicable regime.