Donald Trump understands Korean

Trump accepts Kim's invitation

Although Trump has accepted Kim Jong Un's surprising invitation to a meeting, the White House emphasizes that this will not change the sanctions or the pressure on North Korea.

Unlike in heavy weather, there were no wet reporters screaming into microphones in the wind and waves. Rather, they were freezing reporters looking at each other in disbelief in the dark driveway to the White House. The South Korean delegation, which had come to inform the Americans about their visit to the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, had just announced a major event on the world stage, and the main actor of the in-house ensemble let the chance for this appearance be taken away?

Quirky event

Not quite. With a reference to the press corps, President Donald Trump personally raised expectations of the South Koreans' improvised press conference on Thursday evening in front of the White House. And added the note that he should be given credit for the monumental event. But then he left the stage to the South Korean emissaries, which at best had good tactical reasons.

They announced that after a long period of violent mutual saber rattling, Kim had invited Trump to a conversation about the denuclearization of Korea. He also promised to suspend further missile and nuclear bomb tests during the talks. This would be the first time an incumbent American president would meet the ruler in Pyongyang.

Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2018

Foreign politicians in Washington were still rubbing their eyes a little on Friday. The White House spokeswoman had since confirmed that Trump had accepted Kim's invitation to the summit and that they were now working to find a time and place for the meeting. The meeting could only take place after North Korea has taken verifiable steps to denuclearize the country, it said.

The question of how serious the discussion proposal from Pyongyang was, stirred minds violently - as much as the amazement that Trump's promise had apparently not been discussed with either the Foreign Ministry or the Defense Ministry. Just hours earlier, Foreign Minister Rex Tillerson had declared on his Africa tour that there was still a long way to go before direct talks were reached. You have to approach the matter very realistically.

In expert circles, it was relatively quick to come to the conclusion that a meeting between Kim and Trump could really take place, because both parties expect it to be advantageous. However, the chances of success seem manageable, in contrast to the risks in the event of failure of the whole exercise. First, however, one will have to wait and see whether the encounter really takes place. Location alone could pose tricky logistical and security issues, and neither Kim nor Trump will allow them to appear as supplicants in any way.

Weather vane in the White House

Then the question will arise whether the two sides (want to) talk about the same things at all. It is by no means clear whether the USA and North Korea mean the same thing by the concept of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. But even under the assumption that the meeting takes place and will end well - with an agreement that serious discussions about the same goal should now begin - the backbreaking work would only then begin. And that requires informed personnel, which the US doesn't have at the moment, at least not in the State Department.

The American president sees himself as an exception, gifted with extraordinary negotiating skills. But so far he has mainly attracted attention in the White House with how quickly he changes his attitude if necessary. In the case of North Korea, it was less than half a year ago that he accused Tillerson of wasting his time offering calls to North Korea. Just because the president himself is now in the spotlight instead of the foreign minister does not make the project any more serious.