Trump is hopeful, but some skeptical ahead of US-NK talks


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

An enigmatic North Korean leader takes a secretive train trip to China to affirm fraternal ties and declare a commitment to denuclearization.

It sounds like Kim Jong Un’s visit this week, but his father and predecessor Kim Jong Il made similar declarations on a trip to Beijing, months before he died in 2011. Yet North Korea’s nuclear weapons development only speeded up.

President Donald Trump expressed optimism Wednesday after the younger Kim’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying there’s “a good chance” that Kim will “do what is right for his people and for humanity.” But there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical that the U.S.-North Korean summit slated for May will produce the breakthrough that Washington wants.

After a year of escalating tensions, Trump agreed to talks after South Korean officials relayed that Kim was committed to ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons and was willing to halt nuclear and missile tests.

That has tamped down fears of war that elevated as Trump and Kim traded threats and insults and North Korea demonstrated it was close to being able to strike the U.S. with a nuclear-tipped missile.

Kim’s meeting with Xi offered some reassurance to Washington that “denuclearization” will be up for negotiation if the first summit between American and North Korean leaders in seven decades of animosity takes place.

But while Trump has elevated expectations of what that sit-down would achieve, North Korea has yet to spell out what it wants in return for abandoning a weapons program that Kim likely views as a guarantee for the survival of his totalitarian regime.

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