The second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is likely to be more productive than the first because the sides have been working to narrow their differences, a former U.S. intelligence official said Friday.
The projection by Andrew Kim, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Korea Mission Center, comes amid skepticism that the Feb. 27-28 summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, will lead to a concrete agreement to dismantle the North’s nuclear weapons program.
“I think it’s going to be much more, I can say personally, I can say it will be productive than the first one,” Kim said during a talk at Stanford University. “After the first summit, we got to know each other. We’re still getting to know each other. We’re going to the second summit. So given this progress so far, I think we’ll have a better outcome at the second summit.”
Kim was a key member of the U.S. team involved in preparations for the first summit in Singapore in June. He accompanied U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on all four of his trips to Pyongyang last year and retired in December.
“We’re focused on denuclearization. They’re focused on building the trust,” he recalled of the first summit, saying it was “unrealistic” to expect a grand deal to emerge from it. “They’re meeting for the first time.”
The Singapore summit was the first meeting between sitting leaders of the U.S. and North Korea. While it produced a commitment from North Korea to pursue complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for U.S. security guarantees, it also faced criticism for lacking details and possibly giving the regime the legitimacy it seeks as a nuclear weapons state.
Kim said he doesn’t believe the North Koreans put denuclearization on the table out of desperation. In part, he said, the North Koreans likely wanted a deal with the Trump administration.
“They know that they have to strike a deal during one administration because they wait too long, they don’t know what’s going to happen after that,” he said.
And the North Koreans learned a lesson in the 2000s, when President George W. Bush took over from Bill Clinton.
“If Vice President Al Gore won at that election, probably would have a diplomatic relationship with North Korea, but Bush administration came in, it became scrapped,” Kim said. “They all know this calculation and why they want to strike deal right now, they’re very focused on it. They probably have their own assessment that this is an administration they want to deal with.” (Yonhap)