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Trump-Kim Part Two

September 15, 2018

In recent weeks it’s become clear that Donald Trump wants to meet with Kim Jong Un again, and the North Korean leader has told the White House he’d like more face-to-face talks with the American president.

Could that meeting happen, as some in Seoul have pushed for, on the sidelines of a U.N. gathering of world leaders in New York later this month?

Getting Kim, the brutal, authoritarian leader of the most sanctioned country on the planet, to the home of the Yankees might seem a fantastic fever-dream. But it’s useful to remember that no analysts predicted that Trump’s surprise June summit with Kim in Singapore would be possible — until suddenly it was.

Amid worries that Washington and Pyongyang are sinking further into a standoff over the sincerity of North Korea’s nuclear disarmament intentions, Trump may believe that another high-profile summit, on his home turf and as political scandal swirls in Washington, is just the thing.

It would also play into his response to widespread criticism that the Singapore summit was a waste of time, at best, and a dangerous back-step in efforts to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, at worst.

The declaration released at the Singapore summit was widely seen as a watered-down version of past agreements, but Trump has suggested that the only result that mattered was whether he got along with the North Korean dictator. Trump claims the answer is a resounding yes.

If the mercurial leaders of two nuclear powers — and two men who had been threatening missile strikes and insulting each other’s intelligence and appearance only months earlier — can nurture this budding relationship, the argument goes, then they can keep meeting and, eventually, “solve” a nuclear impasse that has flummoxed a long line of previous U.S. and South Korean presidents and occasionally edged Northeast Asia toward fears of war.

Odds are it won’t happen in New York — the nightmare of the logistics alone would seem to doom such a meeting — and there are currently no signs that the White House is preparing for such a sit-down. But Trump’s presidency, so far, has shown that the playbook used by previous U.S. leaders to confront North Korea doesn’t seem to apply to him — and, he might argue, has never worked anyway.

Here’s a look then at whether the always hectic annual U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York at the end of September will host another Trump-Kim summit:

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