The Definition of Success in Hanoi

Cipher Brief Expert View

Expectations are high for the second summit of President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jung-Un.  Most people assume that there wouldn’t be a second summit if the principals weren’t confident that the summit would be a success.  So, how do we define a successful summit?

The first summit was historic, in that this was the first time a sitting president met with a leader from North Korea.  The symbolism was powerful, although the Joint Statement of June 12, 2018 was criticized for lacking detail. What the Statement did include, however, was:  A commitment that the U.S. would establish a new relationship with North Korea; that both countries would establish a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula; and North Korea would work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  During the eight months after the June Summit, there was no substantive movement on any of these commitments.  In fact, until just a few weeks ago, the U.S. Special Representative, Steve Biegun, tried, but was unable to meet with his North Korean counterpart.  Fortunately, this recently changed when Biegen was finally able to meet with Kim Hyok Chol.

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