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President Trump in the Oval Office. Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

News that President Donald Trump will sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the next three months is a stunning development. There is considerable risk associated with this dramatic gambit. Contrary to the normal diplomatic playbook, which calls for leaders to meet after experts have worked through complex details, this meeting will in essence kickstart negotiations.

What's next: If Kim is willing to bargain away his nuclear and missile capabilities — a big if — the biggest hurdle to an agreement will be less what North Koreans demand than what American politics allows.

The United States should require North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, rejoin the Nonproliferation Treaty and agree to the Additional Protocol (which allows for more intrusive inspections), cease the long-range missile development that threatens the U.S. mainland and stop its cyber attacks on U.S. entities. Japan will demand a full accounting of its citizens who were kidnapped during the Cold War.

North Korea will likely seek a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War, the resumption of normal diplomatic relations, a scaling back of the U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula and a public pledge that Washington does not seek regime change. It will demand an end to international sanctions and could seek a major commitment of economic assistance.

What rights would Pyongyang retain to develop civilian nuclear energy and export conventional military hardware? This question recalls ground the Obama administration plowed with Iran, despite a lack of trust on both sides. And what about North Korea's abysmal human rights record? That has not been a priority for Trump, but claims of “appeasement” have a potent history in American politics.

[UNSUPPORTED BLOCK TYPE: axiom]

P.J. Crowley is a former Assistant Secretary of State and author of "Red Line: American Foreign Policy in a Time of Fractured Politics and Failing States."

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

3 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.