North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Confirms Summit With U.S.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un publicly acknowledged for the first time the prospect of a “dialogue” with the U.S. and a planned summit meeting with South Korea’s president, breaking a weekslong silence that had raised questions about Pyongyang’s participation in the high-level meetings.
Mr. Kim, speaking at a meeting of the Politburo of the Workers’ Party of Korea on Monday, “made a profound analysis and appraisal of the orientation of the development of the north-south relations at present and the prospect of the DPRK-U.S. dialogue,” according to a state media report published Tuesday in Pyongyang.
The DPRK is the acronym for the country’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Mr. Kim’s remarks were published just hours after President Donald Trump said at a cabinet meeting Monday that a summit with Mr. Kim could take place “in May, or early June,” extending a timeline that the White House had first made public last month.
Mr. Kim’s acknowledgment of the high-level meetings came after a lengthy silence that had led some experts to wonder about North Korea’s willingness to meet Mr. Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Word of Pyongyang’s apparent agreement on the summits had initially come from South Korean envoys who had met with Mr. Kim, and not directly from North Korea, which for several weeks made no mention of the meetings in its state media.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Pyongyang had made direct assurances to Washington that the issue of its nuclear arsenal would be up for discussion at a possible U.S.-North Korea summit—fulfilling a key demand of the White House.
“There will be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully there will be a deal on de-nuking,” Mr. Trump said on Monday. “Hopefully it will be a relationship that will be much different than it has been for many, many years.”
Michael Bender in Washington contributed to this article.
Bolton Faces a Dangerous World
He joins the chaotic Trump team amid the greatest uncertainty since Truman’s era.
Welcome to the White House, Mr. Bolton. Not since the 1940s has a national security adviser faced an array of challenges this urgent, this numerous and this perplexing.
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Five distinct threats will compete for John Bolton’s attention as he settles into Henry Kissinger’s old digs: First, North Korea’s drive toward nuclear weapons that threaten the U.S. has reached a critical juncture. Second, China’s militarization of the South China Sea coincides with a crisis in U.S.-China trade relations. Third, Russia’s efforts to disrupt the Western alliance system and re-establish itself as a major power in the Middle East have progressed to the point that not even Donald Trump can ignore them. Fourth, Iran’s push to consolidate its gains in Syria and Lebanon has alarmed and provoked Israel and its once-hostile Arab neighbors. Fifth, Islamist terrorism continues to lurk in the shadows, threatening to emerge at any moment and force Western governments to respond.
As the White House considers these threats, its options are constrained. Seventeen years of indecisive war has left a polarized American public weary of global engagement. The midterm elections may yield a “blue wave” that forces the president into a defensive crouch to fend off investigations and perhaps even impeachment by a Democratic Congress. The press is deeply hostile to the Trump administration and unwilling to grant it the benefit of the doubt in foreign policy. Traditional alliances are strained: Europe and Asia worry that an “America First” administration is less valuable and reliable as a partner; Turkey, meanwhile, flirts with a revisionist confederation with Russia and Iran.
Compounding the challenge is that adversaries world-wide share an interest in keeping Uncle Sam off-balance. North Korea, China, Russia, Iran and the jihadists don’t operate on a single master plan, but this common interest leads to a kind of informal coordination. Crises may erupt at inconvenient times for the U.S. precisely because they are inconvenient times for the U.S.
Then there is Mr. Bolton’s boss. Donald Trump is not interested in subordinating his improvisational leadership style to the demands of any Washington routine. He believes that the foreign-policy establishment is deeply flawed, that the career bureaucracy actively seeks to undermine his administration, and that many of the basic principles that have informed American thinking abroad for 70 years need to be discarded.
As national security adviser, Mr. Bolton sits where the rubber of presidential spontaneity meets the road of the institutional foreign-policy process. Mr. Bolton’s unenviable but critical task is to bring some kind of order to the most chaotic administration in recent memory, which is confronting the most dangerous international situation since the Truman administration.
Mr. Bolton will have some help. Mike Pompeo, whom Mr. Trump has nominated for secretary of state, will substantially strengthen the national-security team, assuming the Senate confirms him. Mr. Pompeo is well-suited to be the administration’s voice on foreign policy. Rex Tillerson —understaffed, consumed by internal State Department battles, and at odds with the president on many issues—was unable to fulfill this role. Under Mr. Pompeo, the machinery and presentation of policy are likely to run more smoothly, allowing the State Department’s expertise to be more usefully deployed in the service of policy goals.
Developments in two regions are likely to dominate Mr. Bolton’s inbox in the coming weeks. In East Asia, he will need to try to mix carrots and sticks to bring stability back to U.S.-China relations, while managing the run-up to Mr. Trump’s high-stakes negotiations with Kim Jong Un. In the Middle East, Mr. Bolton will look for ways to push back against Iran while persuading Russia that all-out opposition to the U.S. in the region carries too many costs to be worth it.
President Trump and Mr. Bolton are on record as wanting to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Accomplishing this without losing British and French support for a robust policy to counter Russia and Iran in the Middle East will be an early test of Mr. Bolton’s savvy. In April, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Washington, giving Mr. Bolton a chance to build relationships with vital allies. While the French are more flexible than the Germans, both countries are strongly committed to the Iran deal.
John Bolton’s many critics will be quick to pounce if, as seems likely, his early months in the job prove tempestuous. At this point, that’s almost a given. The question isn’t whether Mr. Bolton’s tenure will be dramatic and eventful; the question is whether he can steer the ship of American foreign policy through a storm that was building long before he was called to the helm.