For more than 20 years, North Korean leaders have been trying to have a personal meeting with an American president. However, as the possibility for such a meeting unexpectedly appeared, analysts warn that U.S. President Donald Trump’s understaffed administration may lack the expertise and experience to succeed in turning the political spectacle long sought by Pyongyang into a meaningful opportunity to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, Reuters wrote.
South Korean officials stated Friday that President Trump almost instantly agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, without preconditions, by the end of May. But even the advocates of a diplomatic approach towards North Korea fear that the White House might be rushing things with very little time to prepare.
Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at the New America think tank, who has engaged North Korean officials at unofficial discussions stated that such a summit where sitting American and North Korean leaders would have met for the first time ever, would typically happen after each side had made at least some concrete agreements.
“It will have to be managed carefully with a great deal of prep work,” she said on Twitter. “Otherwise, it runs the risk of being more spectacle than substance. Right now, Kim Jong-un is setting the agenda and the pace, and the Trump administration is reacting. The administration needs to move quickly to change this dynamic.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday, just hours before the announcement of a summit, that “we are a long ways from negotiations.”
According to Reuters, several experienced career diplomats occupy key positions in the Trump administration’s Korea and East Asia offices, but many of them are in an acting capacity while other positions are entirely empty. Joseph Yun, the U.S. envoy who was leading the negotiations with North Korea, resigned last week, and Trump has not nominated an ambassador to South Korea yet.
“A Trump meeting with Kim presents both risks and opportunities,” said Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.
“The U.S. side needs to be very, very well prepared and know exactly what it wants to achieve, as well as what the U.S. is willing to provide in return.”