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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attending a military parade. Photo: AFP / KCNA via KNS

Talks with North Korea present a long list possible pitfalls for the U.S. Since Kim Jong-un's offer, President Trump has exacerbated the risks by accepting the invitation outright, issuing overconfident statements and replacing the cautious Rex Tillerson with the pliant Mike Pompeo as secretary of state.

Why it matters: The State Department exists to ensure that the president arrives at summits like this with a strong hand, by nailing down favorable terms and negotiation strategy. Ignoring this expertise will see Trump striding blithely toward potential traps.

Pyongyang's likely gambits:

  1. Strengthen its rule by meeting with Trump on equal footing
  2. Convince Beijing that sanctions are no longer needed
  3. Exacerbate friction in the U.S.-South Korea alliance
  4. Roll back U.S. military presence in Korea
  5. Embarrass Trump by testing missiles before the summit

What's next: So far, the U.S. has only fallen into the first trap — but the others loom. The North Koreans can accomplish the rest by embarrassing Trump and causing him to walk away from the table first. Reneging on their commitment to South Korea to denuclearize could be enough, even if Pyongyang puts a modest but reasonable offer on the table. Or they could maneuver an impulsive president into committing to reduce U.S. forces on the peninsula.

Adam Mount is a senior fellow and director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

Go deeper

Updated 15 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

17 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.