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Photo: Kim meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS
President Trump will soon sit across the table from a man who, as of three months ago, was an enigma even to the CIA. He hadn’t left his country as leader, and his most high-profile summit was with Dennis Rodman. Not long ago we debated whether he was crazy — now there’s concern he might be too shrewd.
Between the lines: Kim’s emergence onto the world stage has been swift and, thus far, remarkably successful. Once a pariah, he’s now being courted by foreign leaders. Commitment to maximum pressure is dwindling around the world, and even in Washington. Trump is looking for a breakthrough in Singapore. Kim has already had one.
I asked Jung Pak, a former CIA analyst now at the Brookings Institution, what a successful summit on Tuesday (Monday night EST) looks like for Kim:
"A vague statement, big smiles, big banquet, his wife is there — charming, lovely, young — talking to Trump, and he walks away. Maybe there's another summit, maybe there's follow-up meetings, maybe there's a declaration for peace, but in any case I think it's up to Kim if he's gonna start doing nasty things again or if he's just gonna stay quiet for seven years."
Sue Mi Terry of CSIS, also a former CIA analyst, told Mike Morell on the latest Intelligence Matters podcast that Kim doesn't need to get anything concrete from the summit to consider it a win. That doesn't mean a larger deal isn't achievable, though:
But with Mike Pompeo reiterating the U.S. position today that nothing short of "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" will do, can Kim really get there?
"I think he's willing to sit down and negotiate. Will he, at this moment, be thinking in his head that he's going to absolutely give up his nuclear weapons program? I don't think so. That doesn't mean he won't ever... but at this moment, what he wants is just a negotiation."— Sue Mi Terry
Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings lays out one alternative to full denuclearization the U.S. might be able to live with: North Korea becomes "Vietnam with nuclear weapons."
"If he's gonna be in charge of North Korea for the next fifty years — reform from within, gradually connect to the world, build up the economy, but he keeps those nuclear weapons as long into the process as he can. ... We could live with that as long as we keep our expectations in check."
"North Korea has been studying the United States — solely focused on the United States for decades. So this is not something we can wing."— Sue Mi Terry
"I think I'm very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. This isn’t a question of preparation. It's a question of whether or not people want it to happen, and we'll know that very quickly."— President Trump
Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images
Ahead of the G7 summit — which begins tomorrow in Canada and which President Trump is reportedly dreading — French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a remarkable press conference in which they criticized President Trump's entire approach to foreign policy and noted how isolated he is from the other G7 leaders.
"Perhaps President Trump doesn't mind that he's being isolated today, but these six countries have shared values, we represent an economic market that has the strength of history behind it and also represents true international strength today."— Emmanuel Macron
On tariffs, Macron said Trump's "unacceptable actions are hurting his own citizens," while Trudeau noted, "we are the closest friends the United States has had in quite some time."
On dealing with Trump, Macron said, "Sometimes I've been criticized for being too friendly with President Trump. ... Can I be criticized for the decisions of another leader? No! ... I think we've done everything we can, and put everything on the line."
On U.S. foreign policy: "When you're saying that President Trump doesn't really care, maybe you're right, but no one lives forever. Our countries and the commitments we make will extend beyond our lives. There is a continuity on the international level."
What the world is reading...
Worth noting: As the head of a populist coalition, new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is also an outlier among the G7 leaders. La Stampa envisions "a difficult debut for Conte" while Il Messaggero sums up his position: "From the classrooms of the University of Florence to the table of world leaders, in just one week."
Expert Voices: The G7 summit will be contentious — for all the wrong reasons.
On the left: A view of Singapore's business district. On the right: Caracas during a partial power outage. Photos: Getty Images
Gallup asks people around the world how confident they are in local police, how safe they feel in their neighborhood, and whether they've been the victim of a crime in the past year, then combines those answers into a "law and order index."
Highest law and order scores:
The good news is that two-thirds of people surveyed around the world feel confident in their local police force, and safe walking in their neighborhood at night.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the worst performing region, those numbers tend to be far lower. Just 17% of Venezuelans feel safe at night, 42% said they'd been the victim of theft in the past year, and 24% said they'd been assaulted.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Prime Minister Theresa May has once again been forced to face off with Brexit hardliners within her own cabinet. Axios' deputy news editor and chief Brexit-watcher Shane Savitsky explains:
Spain's new Socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez has unveiled a cabinet in which 11 of 17 members are women — the highest proportion in European history, per CBC.
Erdogan at a political rally today. Photo: Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Earlier this spring, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a big bet. Moving up his country’s general elections by 16 months to June 24, he reasoned, would make it easier to lock in a fresh mandate before a slowing economy and growing opposition complicated things.
The bigger picture: Given his broad influence over the media and the courts, Erdogan and his AKP party are still the electoral favorites. But over the past year, there have been several cases when world leaders tried to time elections to their advantage, only to see things blow up in their faces. Just ask Malaysia’s Najib Razak, Britain’s Theresa May, and Italy’s Matteo Renzi.
Ethiopia says it will accept a peace agreement with Eritrea and bring an end to a deadly conflict between the two neighbors.
The funny thing is a couple of years ago, when I was going to my first G-7, all the questions were, “Listen, you agree on everything, you and Obama, and everyone else. You’re always very aligned. What’s the point of a G-7 when you all come together and agree on everything?” And now that there may be differences in perspective at the G-7, everyone says, “Well, you don’t agree on anything, so what’s the point of a G-7 coming together?”— Justin Trudeau to Bloomberg
Thanks for reading — see you Monday evening.