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Leader Kim and President Moon at the summit dinner banquet. Photo: Inter-Korean Summit/POOL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The summit between North Korea's Kim Jong-un and the South's Moon Jae-in was rich in symbolism and breathtaking in its dramatics. The two leaders — who just months ago were preparing for possible war — held hands, crossed into each other's territory, posed for photos and joked together. They also made commitments that, if fulfilled, would represent a huge step toward peace on the peninsula.

Yes, but: Much turns, however, on whether those commitments are indeed fulfilled. Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to “complete denuclearization” of the peninsula and to pursue a peace treaty that would officially end the Korean War. Yet the pledges included no timeline for the North's denuclearization, no process for verifying steps toward it nor a plan for how Kim would detail his nuclear and missile arsenals.

Flashback: North Korea has made similar promises in the past and always failed to follow through. In 2005, Pyongyang agreed to abandon all of its nuclear weapons and programs but did not do so. Earlier, it froze plutonium production only to be caught secretly enriching uranium.

What's next: As Kim's meeting with President Trump looms, Washington can be expected to insist on timelines for denuclearization and specific verification protocols. Administration officials have hinted that they will insist on early disarmament steps by the North before granting any sanctions relief. If Trump makes such demands, the real test will begin — and we will learn if any sincerity lies within Kim's latest set of commitments.

Richard Fontaine is the president of the Center for a New American Security.

Go deeper

Ro Khanna accuses Biden of quitting Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.

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Scoop: Biden meeting Quad amid own pivot toward Asia

Artists paint portraits of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Mumbai, India. Photo: Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

President Biden plans to meet this month with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India in a virtual summit of the so-called Quad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: By putting a Quad meeting on the president’s schedule, the White House is signaling the importance of partnerships and alliances to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

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