Donald Trump summed up how up in the air the planning for the summit in Singapore has been by saying, “We haven’t seen anything. We haven’t heard anything. We will see what happens. Whatever it is, it is.”
Just a few weeks ago there was no date and no place.
CGTN’s Nathan King gives us some behind the scenes details of the high-stakes diplomacy, and confusion, that’s gone into planning the meeting between Trump and Kim.
Just when June 12 in Singapore was announced, the summit was called off. Then it was on again. What has followed has been a diplomatic frenzy. Three separate U.S. and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea teams have met at the same time, in different places.
The DPRK’s top negotiator was in New York, and then Washington, for talks. Meanwhile, a separate U.S. and DPRK team met at the North-South border on the Korean peninsula, trying to work out what, if anything, can be agreed on in Singapore.
In Singapore, so-called “pre-advance” teams discussed logistics planning, such as who will sit where who will walk in first, and how many rooms. Then there are the details of the interpreters and dinners.
“Singapore is a global hub, highly respected, it’s a first world economy, it is at a crossroads of the East and West. It therefore signifies progression, signifies all things possible,” said Dr. Graham Ong-Webb of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
Given that Trump and Kim are more used to hurling insults at each other than talking peace, planning for this summit has been fraught. U.S. officials would like to repeat the success of the recent North-South Summit on the Korean peninsula. That saw a warmth between the two Korean leaders, with some clear concrete outcomes.
“If North Korea can play ball and to work along some kind of process, according to some kind of road map, deal or timeline, then I think that would be a marker of success for the summit,” explained Dr. Ong-Webb. “I think that the Americans also have to manage their expectations and not fool themselves into thinking that this longstanding problem and the series of failures you have seen in the past, taking those things into account, that overnight, essentially, an agreement can be struck, and the North Koreans are simply going to dismantle everything over the next few weeks or next few months. That’s not going to happen.”
Expectations for U.S. President Trump for the summit have been hard to nail down. Recently, he did not discourage talk that he may deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. But as this summit gets closer, he’s tempering that talk. He’s recently described the historic meeting as a getting-to-know-you meeting,