President Trump announced today that the summit with North Korea, which he recently canceled, is back on.
“We’re over that, totally over that, and now we’re going to deal and we’re really going to start a process,” Trump told reporters. “We’re meeting with the chairman on June 12, and I think it’s probably going to be a very successful—ultimately, a successful process.”
This announcement follows an exhausting back and forth between the two leaders and reports of Kim Jong-Un writing a personal letter to Trump that, at the time, appeared to suggest the summit was off the table entirely.
According to the Wall Street Journal (via Vox), a foreign official who remains nameless leaked information about a letter from Kim that was hand-delivered to the White House on Friday. The letter stated that Kim still wished to meet with Trump, so at least they’re in agreement about the summit for the first time. This entire situation is almost like a couple who met on the internet deciding whether they want to go on a date. Kim Yong Chol, Kim’s right-hand man (or maybe just his only friend), hand-delivered the letter to the White House today at 1 p.m. This was the first time since 2000 that a North Korean official had entered the White House, and only the second time in history that one had met with a sitting American President.
Kim’s newfangled desperation comes after reports that he blew up one of his nuclear test sites. However, in the letter, Kim reportedly does not say he will surrender all nuclear weapons as Trump has asked on numerous occasions. Until now, Kim’s statements revealed he would prefer to dismantle the nukes in phases, and why wouldn’t he? It would get the U.S. and Trump off his back while he continues to tinker with his bombs. However, during this phasing out time period U.S. inspectors could check in on the progress in exchange for U.S. diplomatic recognition of the Kim regime. Trump obviously didn’t go for this plan and demanded denuclearization immediately, which, according to a report by the New York Times, is impossible because experts say it could take 15 years. So everything was at a complete standstill, with neither of them budging until the letter arrived today.
Before Trump’s announcement today, there was speculation that the letter would ruin all chances of a summit. Harry Kazianis, North Korean expert at the Center for the National Interest think tank, told Vox, “there won’t be a summit. The bottom line is both sides are just too far apart. Kim wants to make an aspirational pledge while we want something firm. There is no way to bridge that gap easily.” Trump was scheduled to go to Camp David this weekend to discuss the summit. Yet, the decision was made before the trip, and within hours of the arrival of Kim’s letter at 1 p.m. For now, the summit is back on, but don’t get too comfortable because this former TV show host, masquerading as a president, is bound to continue to keep us on the edge of our seats.