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From supreme leader to Dennis Rodman: The many agendas of the North Korean summit

Kim Jong Un

Supreme Leader of North Korea

Background

After years spent ratcheting up North Korea’s nuclear program, Kim Jong Un changed tactics earlier this year, suddenly signalling a willingness to negotiate with South Korea and the United States. Kim, via the South Korean government, invited Trump to a face-to-face meeting, which Trump swiftly accepted. Kim has since said his country has halted all nuclear and missile tests and claims to have destroyed its nuclear testing site.

Agenda

It’s unclear exactly what Kim ultimately wants out of his talks with the U.S. Most analysts believe he’s primarily seeking to preserve his regime’s stability by obtaining pledges that the U.S. and its allies will not interfere with Kim’s rule. Kim is also likely hoping for a rollback of international economic sanctions, or a promise of foreign aid, to help quell potential popular unrest about a stagnant North Korean economy. It’s also possible that Kim simply wants the international recognition that comes with a public meeting with a sitting U.S. president — something that has never occurred during the Kim dynasty.

Mike Pompeo

U.S. Secretary of State

Background

Mike Pompeo has been Trump’s point man on the negotiations with Kim Jong Un to this point. As CIA director, Pompeo was the first high-ranking American official to meet with Kim Jong Un, making a secret trip in April to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, and returning the next month to secure the release of three Americans being held prisoner in the country. Pompeo later hosted a delegation of senior North Korean officials in New York.

Agenda

Pompeo has been working with the North Koreans to narrow the two sides’ definition of what, exactly, denuclearization means. During a Thursday briefing at the White House, Pompeo said he had made progress on this front, but would not elaborate. “We’re making progress, inch by inch,” he said.

John Bolton

White House National Security Adviser

Background

John Bolton started as Trump’s top national security adviser in early April, bringing with him a long history of publicly insisting that North Korea will “will never give up nuclear weapons voluntarily,” and calling past U.S. diplomatic forays with the country “embarrassments.” Since joining the administration, Bolton’s public comments on the negotiations have sparked angry reactions from Pyongyang, which issued a statement saying “we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him.”

Agenda

It’s unknown what role Bolton will play in Tuesday’s summit. While the White House has confirmed that Bolton is traveling to Singapore, Mike Pompeo has been the administration’s public face of its diplomatic initiative with Kim Jong Un.

Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

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