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News Analysis: Trump Veers to a Korea Plan That Echoes Failures of the Past

“Trump apparently just agreed to a summit without any way forward on nuclear weapons or much of anything apart from a commitment to start a process whose purpose for now is ‘getting to know you,’” said Christopher R. Hill, who led the negotiations with North Korea for Mr. Bush.

Moreover, he has promised to back — but not to finance — exactly the kind of aid to the North that Mr. Clinton agreed to in 1994. That accord, called the Agreed Framework, was a document of just a few pages in which North Korea agreed to halt all production of plutonium. In return, it was to receive two light-water nuclear reactors, for electricity generation, and fuel oil from the United States.

Much of the oil was delivered, over congressional objections. The reactors were never built because the Agreed Framework was abandoned by the Bush administration after the North Koreans were caught cheating by creating a secret uranium enrichment program, another pathway to the bomb.

Among the biggest critics of the Clinton agreement was Mr. Trump’s new national security adviser, John R. Bolton. He has publicly proposed that North Korea follow the path of Libya, and simply turn over all of its nuclear equipment before any sanctions relief. But while Libya had barely any equipment, North Korea has a vast arsenal and nuclear infrastructure.

When North Korea lashed out at Mr. Bolton, pointing out that Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, was killed less than a decade after he gave up his weapons, Mr. Trump quickly disavowed the views of his aide. Mr. Bolton was left out of Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Kim’s emissary on Friday.

Some former negotiators said Mr. Trump had gotten a much-needed education in the complexities of dealing with North Korea. They said his drive for a meeting was still the best hope to avoid war.

“The trick will be to reach agreements that may not be the Libya model of immediate disarmament but that stop, roll back and eventually dismantle North Korean programs in a way that gives us confidence that they aren’t cheating,” said Joel S. Wit, an expert on North Korea who was involved in diplomacy during the Clinton administration.

“The only way to do that is to meet their concerns on issues like a peace treaty,” Mr. Wit said. “It’s not ideal, but that’s what negotiations are about. It’s not one side capitulates. It’s both sides win.”

Source: NYT > World

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