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U.S. has daunting to-do listing to prepare for North Korea summit

Who sits the place? What’s on the agenda? Will they eat collectively? What is the safety plan?

President Donald Trump and his staff have a frightening to-do listing to work by way of as they put together for subsequent month’s anticipated summit with North Korean chief Kim Jong Un.

Mr. Trump’s plan to satisfy with Kim could have come as a shock resolution, however his staff hopes to depart nothing to likelihood after they come collectively in Singapore. They’re gaming out coverage plans, negotiating techniques, even menu objects.

With two unpredictable leaders, it is arduous to anticipate each chance. However White Home aides predict hard-ball negotiating techniques — already in proof this week because the North Koreans solid contemporary doubt on the sit-down.

Chief summits on this stage are an enormous enterprise. Very similar to icebergs, solely a small fraction of the work is seen above the waterline. And when the assembly includes the heads of two technically still-warring states, the listing of logistical considerations expands, together with delicate objects just like the quantity and deployment of safety officers. Officers on either side are nonetheless figuring out the format for the assembly or conferences, whether or not Mr. Trump and Kim will share a meal, and the extent of any one-on-one interactions.

All of that comes because the U.S. formulates its methods for the talks, together with what the U.S. is ready to surrender and the way exactly to outline “denuclearization” on the Korean Peninsula — Mr. Trump’s acknowledged objective.

“I’d say there are tons of if not hundreds of hours put into summit preparations,” stated Patrick McEachern, a public coverage fellow on the Woodrow Wilson Middle and a former State Division official.

Scott Mulhauser, a former chief of workers on the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, stated that within the leadup to summit conferences, staffs attempt to anticipate the assorted negotiating positions their counterparts may take, including that “for those who’re not gaming that out, you are not making ready adequately.”

Mr. Trump is relying closely on his high diplomat, Mike Pompeo, in making ready for the summit. Pompeo has met with Kim twice in Pyongyang, as soon as as secretary of state and as soon as as CIA chief, and has spent extra time with the reclusive chief than every other American official. The quantity of face time Pompeo has had with Kim rivals even that of most Asian leaders, aside from the Chinese language.

Pompeo assembled a working group to deal with negotiations with North Korea led by a retired senior CIA official with deep expertise within the area. That staff, primarily based at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, stays the middle of the administration’s North Korea experience.

Planning for the summit began shortly after Trump introduced on Twitter his plans to satisfy with Kim, however kicked into larger gear after John Bolton turned Trump’s nationwide safety adviser final month. Along with Pompeo’s two journeys to Pyongyang, U.S. officers have additionally been coordinating with the North Koreans by way of what’s often called the “New York channel” — North Korean diplomats posted to their nation’s mission to the United Nations.

A key query is the format for the assembly if the 2 international locations are capable of proceed to full-fledged nuclear negotiations, U.S. officers have stated. That features selections about whether or not to maintain the talks restricted to the U.S. and North Korea or whether or not to carry different governments into the method, equivalent to South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. Additionally secret’s what the U.S. will negotiate away.

“One factor that’s unclear to us is what the U.S. is keen to barter in alternate for North Korea’s guarantees on denuclearization,” stated Jean Lee, director of the North Korea program on the Woodrow Wilson Middle. “The North Koreans are going to be armed and really prepared to barter. The Trump administration must be prepared as properly.”

One preliminary hurdle that Pompeo managed to clear throughout his second go to to Pyongyang was the venue for the summit. North Korea was adamant that Kim not be put in any form of scenario the place his safety could possibly be in danger, U.S. officers stated. North Korean officers pushed very arduous for the assembly to be in Pyongyang, so Kim wouldn’t have to depart the nation they usually may have 100 p.c management over entry and communications, in accordance with the officers.

When North Korea objected to Mr. Trump’s most popular selection of the demilitarized zone on the border between North and South Korea, the U.S. countered with Singapore. Some White Home officers additionally opposed the DMZ selection, believing the optics on Korean rapprochement would distract from the give attention to denuclearization.

U.S. officers stated they believed one motive the North Koreans agreed to Singapore was that Kim had simply returned from a profitable journey to China the day earlier than Pompeo arrived for his second go to. Many analysts, together with U.S. officers, imagine that Kim’s flight to the Chinese language port of Dalian — the primary journey overseas by plane by a North Korean chief in a long time — was possible a take a look at of the nation’s skill to soundly transport Kim by air. Kim’s earlier journeys to China had all been by prepare, as was the customized of his father.

The North formally signed off on Singapore whereas Pompeo was in Pyongyang. Even earlier than Mr. Trump introduced the summit website by tweet a day after Pompeo’s return, White Home officers who traveled with Pompeo to Pyongyang had been already on the bottom in Singapore to start understanding summit logistics.

Only a few individuals have had a lot direct contact with the North Koreans, so there are few individuals for the Trump administration to examine with for steering.

Invoice Richardson, the previous New Mexico governor and U.N. ambassador who has negotiated with the North Koreans, had one suggestion. He stated that within the assembly setting, the North Koreans might be very formal, so constructing a rapport between the 2 might be very important.

His principal recommendation: “Attempt to discover some personal time between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.”

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