Apr 28, 2018

New pressure on Trump's summit

North Korea's Kim Jong-un and South Korea's Moon Jae, after signing their declaration at the Peace House. (Korea Summit Press Pool/Getty Images)

The two Koreas' "new era of peace" raises the bar for President Trump's summit with North Korea: He'll go in with credit and momentum, but now will want an even splashier accomplishment than yesterday's path to officially ending the Korean War.

Why it matters: "This Korea summit sets the baseline — no war — and puts it on DJT and the summit with [Kim Jong-un] to pry the weapons out of the [North Korean] leader's hands," says Victor Cha, Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Cha, Trump's original choice to be ambassador to South Korea, told me the president "gets credit [for yesterday's denuclearization announcement] in the sense that the sanctions campaign has put enough pressure on the Kim regime to seek diplomacy as a way to relieve the pressure."

  • "DJT's threats of war over the past year probably motivated both Koreas to declare peace today."
  • "You can't fault the Koreans for wanting peace. They didn't ask to be divided in 1945 by the U.S. and Soviets at the start of the Cold War."
  • "But still, the key to this all being more than just nice-talk is whether the North really will abandon all nuclear weapons and programs."
  • "Not an easy task, but the President has set himself up for this truly monumental negotiation."

AP’s Pyongyang bureau chief, Eric Talmadge, writes that the Koreans' pledge to work together "could complicate matters for Trump, who has raised expectations of a deal with Kim to abandon his nuclear weapons." Trump's summit with Kim Jong-un is expected within weeks, at a location still being negotiated.

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