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Trump needs leadership and allies to salvage the North Korea summit

A South Korean protester wears a mask of U.S. President Donald Trump during a rally to demand a U.S. and North Korea summit on May 25, 2018 in Seoul, South Korea.
A South Korean protester wears a mask of President Trump during a rally to demand a U.S. and North Korea summit on May 25, 2018, in Seoul. Photo: Chung Sung-Jun via Getty Images

While high hopes and expectations for the planned Kim–Trump summit in Singapore seemed to vanish yesterday, Trump's letter to Kim left open the possibility to reschedule, and North Korea's reaction was surprisingly humble and flexible, affirming a willingness to meet.

Yes, but: Even if Trump’s North Korea diplomacy ends here, the mere prospect of the June summit has already enhanced Kim’s status on the international stage and conferred legitimacy on his authoritarian regime. Under diplomatic pretenses, North Korea drew China closer to its side after an extended period of tensions, and its relations with South Korea have also significantly improved. Going forward, it will be much more difficult for the U.S. maximum pressure campaign —not to mention U.S. military action — to garner support from these countries.