Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Some administration officials are so optimistic about making progress with North Korea's Kim Jong-un that they hope a Round 2 with President Trump can be held in New York in September, when world leaders pour into Trump's hometown for the U.N. General Assembly.

The big picture: Officials tell us that Kim would have to show progress for the meeting to occur. One possibility would be for Trump to hold out a Round 2 meeting as a carrot to encourage real movement by North Korea over the summer.

Regardless of whether Kim gets another meeting with the leader of the free world just three months after the Singapore summit, the U.S. is giving him more time to begin denuclearizing despite new doubts about North Korea's good faith.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Pyongyang this week to press denuclearization, the Financial Times reported.
  • Look for a win by Pompeo on securing the return of remains of U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War.
  • Asked by Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business whether to expect North Korea to reveal the specifics of its facilities within the next several weeks, Trump said: "This has been going on for many years. ... I think they're very serious about it. I think they want to do it. We have a very good chemistry."
  • But national security adviser John Bolton sounded cautious on CBS' "Face the Nation": "We're very well aware of North Korea's patterns of behavior over decades of negotiating with the United States. ... [T]here's not any starry eyed feeling among the group doing this."

Headlines this weekend raise substantial questions:

  • WashPost: "N. Korea plotting to keep arsenal."
  • NBC News: "North Korea has increased nuclear production at secret sites ... 'Work is ongoing to deceive us on the number of facilities, the number of weapons, the number of missiles,' said one U.S. official."
  • Wall Street Journal: "North Korea Expands Key Missile-Manufacturing Plant ... New satellite imagery indicates Pyongyang is pushing ahead with weapons programs even as it pursues dialogue with Washington."

Experts consulted by Axios sounded more bearish than the administration:

  • CFR President Richard Haass: "Since Singapore we have seen a huge gap open up between the claims made by POTUS (that the nuclear problem is essentially solved) and the reality that it is anything but."
  • Victor Cha, Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Pompeo "needs to get a commitment to a full declaration and have IAEA inspectors back in the country sealing stuff and installing cameras."

Be smart: Michael Morell, former CIA acting and deputy director, said Kim’s real intentions will be debatable until he formally reveals his arsenal and capabilities. Kim’s past declarations have been suspect, so that’s when "we’ll know if this is a different North Korea than we’ve seen in the past."

Go deeper:

Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily morning newsletter, Axios AM. 

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Graeme Jennings- Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

Harris to Black voters: Casting a ballot is about honoring your ancestors

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris speaks at a "Get Out The Vote" rally at Morehouse College. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months.
  2. Sports: The youth sports exodus continues — Big Ten football is back.
  3. Health: U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began —AstraZeneca to resume vaccine trial in U.S.How to help save 130,000 lives.
  4. Retail: Santa won't greet kids at Macy's this year.
  5. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.