[The meeting between Trump and Kim at the DMZ] could prove worthwhile if Mr. Kim really empowered his negotiators, but I’m skeptical. What would be the incentive for him if he can get the president of the United States to cross over into North Korea without having done very much?
[In speaking of the joint statement President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed at the Singapore Summit] That laid a very shaky foundation on which to build any substantive working level negotiations, and I think if we trace the genealogy of where we are now the roots are in that very weak Singapore summit.
[Kim Jong Un] has not been shy about purging, demoting, shuffling senior officials -- numbering in the hundreds since he came to power in December 2011 -- and instilling fear in the North Korean populace, but also among the elite who rely on his good will for their survival. [Because of Kim Jong Un's tight control of power, Kim Jong Nam -- like most North Koreans who live outside the country -- probably have little] access to the innermost workings of the Kim regime, much less on decision-making on the most sensitive issues, such as the nuclear weapons program.
[U.S. President Donald Trump took a public stance against the use of CIA informants to spy on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it would not happen on his watch and possibly taking away a valuable tool of the U.S. intelligence community.] The president should understand that to keep the nation safe, the CIA needs to be able to do its job gathering and analyzing intelligence that will support the full range of diplomatic, military, and economic policies and initiatives.
[In terms of the latest missle launches from North Korea] It’s important that the US not overreact because Kim is almost certainly going to use an over-thetop response from the Trump administration as an excuse to issue blustery statements and/or take progressively more incendiary actions, and then use the region’s probable alarm about the potential escalation to push the US toward the negotiating table with concessions.
[North Korea is trying to make the nuclear talks all about Trump and Kim. But history shows that professionals must lay the groundwork first.] Leaders can change the whole trajectory of bilateral ties … but this is the first time we have seen Kim directly interact with the president.
[North Korea’s demands on sanctions relief still went far beyond what was likely to be accepted in exchange for limited steps toward denuclearization.] Trump demonstrating his desire for substantive actions on denuclearization was important because Kim has been ignoring U.S. negotiators and banking on his personal appeals to Trump, whom he probably judged was more malleable.