Has Trump already 'won' with his North Korea gambit?

Now that the summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump is back on, a spate of media opinion this last week informs us that the big winner from the summit will be North Korea,

LA Times:

No matter what else comes of it, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has scored a huge win with President Trump's agreement to sit down for a face-to-face meeting.

For decades, North Korean officials have angled to meet with a high-level U.S. representative using all measures of persuasion, whining, wheedling, threatening and even hostage-taking. To secure a chance at that meeting with a sitting U.S. president, no less, amounts to success beyond their wildest dreams.

That's the basic argument of the "North Korea wins" crowd; that simply sitting down with Trump constitutes a victory for Kim.

Not so fast. Word today from Reuters is that Kim can smile and embrace Trump all he wants, he won't get what he desperately needs - sanctions relief - without "clear, irreversible steps to denuclearization."

“We can anticipate, at best, a bumpy road to the (negotiations),” Mattis said at the start of a meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of Shangri-la dialogue in Singapore.

“We will continue to implement all U.N Security Council resolutions on North Korea. North Korea will receive relief only when it demonstrates verifiable and irreversible steps to denuclearization,” Mattis added.

Trump said on Friday he would hold the meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in a dramatic turn of course in the high stakes diplomacy aimed at ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Even putting denuclearization on the table makes Kim a loser. By showing up and talking denuclearization at all, Kim accepts the basic US premise of a new relationship; normalization and a lifting of sanctions will only be possible if Kim gives up his nukes.

How is this not a win? Whatever gains in stature Kim gets from his Trump meeting will be more than negated by his humiliating climb down from his government's long stated demand that any talks be predicated on the fact that North Korea will not give up its nukes.

Tired of winning yet?

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