Trump and Kim set for showdown of the century

War of words: Trump has labelled Kim a “madman” and a “sick puppy”, but also a “smart cookie”.

Will Trump solve the North Korea crisis? The president has agreed to a historic meeting with Kim Jong-un, who has talked of ditching nuclear weapons. Some say Trump is walking into a trap.

The world could be on the brink of the “greatest deal” in its history. That is what Donald Trump declared to supporters at a rally this weekend, as preparations begin for an historic face-to-face meeting between the US president and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

The media was stunned when the summit was first announced last week, after South Korean diplomats brought Trump a message from Kim himself: if the president agreed to a meet, North Korea would consider giving up its nuclear weapons.

Trump agreed immediately, and he could soon become the first sitting US president to ever meet with a North Korean leader.

But now comes the monumental task of actually arranging the summit. A White House statement insisted that it would only happen if North Korea took “concrete steps” to prove it was serious about denuclearisation.

Still, that such arrangements are even being made represents a remarkable development. For months Trump and Kim have been embroiled in a fierce war of words, Kim branding Trump a “mentally deranged dotard” and Trump threatening to “totally destroy North Korea”. Some worried that a nuclear war could break out for real.

While a meeting between the two leaders could be a turning point, striking a meaningful agreement will require extraordinary diplomacy. The possibility of North Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons will likely rest on the condition that America pulls its troops out of South Korea.

But some worry that Kim has no intention of striking such a deal, and that Trump is walking straight into his trap.

Meeting the US president on equal terms would be a huge propaganda coup from Kim, helping legitimise his regime. North Korea expert Harry Kazianis predicts the dictator would “take the pictures of him shaking Donald Trump’s hand and plaster them over every billboard across North Korea”.

Furthermore, North Korean leaders have a long history of promising to stop making nuclear missiles before going back on their word.

Will Trump be able to solve the North Korea crisis?

Art of the deal

Trump is being played, some argue. Kim has no intention of giving up his nukes, and he is the only one that will benefit from the summit. In fact, it could make things much worse. If the talks fail and nothing is achieved, it might convince Trump that military action is the only option. We could be heading for war, not peace.

This time it is different, others respond. Whether the US likes it or not, North Korea’s new nuclear powers make it a force worthy of respect and proper dialogue. Furthermore, all other presidents refused face-to-face talks and the crisis has only worsened. Trump has a chance and we should give him our support.

You Decide

  1. Will North Korea ever give up its nuclear weapons?
  2. Is Donald Trump a good president?

Activities

  1. Imagine you are a reporter sent to cover the meeting. You are allowed to ask both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un one question. What would you ask them and why?
  2. Do some research into the history of diplomacy between the US and North Korea starting with the resources in Become An Expert. Once you have got a sense of the broader historical context spend 15 minutes writing an answer to this question: “North Korea’s offer of talks is just history repeating itself, nothing will come of it. To what extent do you agree?”

Some People Say...

“My whole life is about winning. I don’t lose often. I almost never lose.”

President Donald Trump

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
We know that President Trump has accepted, in principle, an offer of face-to-face talks with Kim Jong-un. The message was delivered via South Korean diplomats and an official invite from North Korea is yet to be extended. Trump himself seems confident that the meeting will go ahead, tweeting that “the deal with North Korea is very much in the making”.
What do we not know?
While the White House has since insisted that North Korea must meet certain conditions before a meeting goes ahead, we do not know precisely what these are and if North Korea will be able to meet them. It is also yet to be agreed where and when the meeting will take place, although May has been mentioned as a rough date.

Word Watch

Giving up
According to South Korean diplomat Chung Eui-yong, Kim Jong-un wants “an open-ended dialogue to discuss the issue of denuclearisation and to normalise relations with North Korea”.
Immediately
This reportedly shocked both Trump’s own staff and the South Korean delegation. For more on the meeting click the New York Times article in Become An Expert.
Concrete steps
There have been no further details specifying what these steps might be.
Troops
America has over 23,000 troops permanently stationed in South Korea. Their joint military exercises with South Korean forces are seen as provocative by North Korea.
Long history
North Korea has pledged to end their nuclear weapons programme in the past before reneging on their commitments. For example, in 1992 North and South Korea both signed a “joint declaration of the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”. For more information follow the CNN link in Become An Expert.
New nuclear powers
Last year North Korea claimed that it had developed a nuclear arsenal capable of striking any city in mainland America.

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