Mary Curtis: Singapore Summit

Was it reality-show stagecraft or the start of a deal with North Korea?

CHARLOTTE, NC — As promised, the June 12 summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took place in Singapore, with flags of both countries, the red carpet and a much-photographed handshake. Dennis Rodman even showed up, giving the occasion a reality-show air. (Mary C. Curtis)

But what was accomplished and what happens next?

Talking points:

–The deal: North Korea promises denuclearization, but does it mean the same thing to all parties? And where is the language about timetables and verification? It was a short agreement with more questions than answers and few details

And Trump promised an end to joint military operations with South Korea, which makes that ally nervous. It seemed to catch both South Korea and the Pentagon by surprise.

–Little mention of human rights offenses: Some were disappointed the president did not talk more about the 100,000 North Koreans in gulags, the torture and starvation of the people, as well as the nation’s cyberwar activities.

–Did Trump praise Kim too much? He called the dictator “very talented,” and smart. Contrast that with language he used for Canada’s Justin Trudeau and longtime allies at the G-7.

–Take war talk off the table: America has certainly backed off from its previous belligerent tone. But was the denuclearization language stronger in past Six Party Talks agreements?

–Is China the real winner? The country would love to loosen trade with North Korea, have them back off of nuclear weapons but have the U.S. reduce its own influence in the region.

–Now the hard part: Diplomacy is a long, hard struggle – and that’s what comes next. Also, congress will want to weigh in. Will Trump have the patience for the back and forth of a long-lasting deal?

The State Department still is not fully staffed up.

–Trump gives himself an out: He said: “I may stand before you in six months and say, hey, I was wrong. I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”

Trump also complimented North Korea’s beaches. Is a new development on the horizon?