The two heads of states are supposed to meet around the end of May, but details about the date, time, location and other participants have yet to be revealed. It’s not clear whether Bolton, who has called for preemptive military strikes on the rogue state, will be present in the room.
“The prospect of a Trump-Kim meeting would be less concerning if the president showed more command of the facts on the Korean Peninsula,” Michael J. Green, a Georgetown University professor and senior vice president for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in a recent op-ed for Foreign Policy.
The process of negotiating with Pyongyang is full of traps, Green argued: “North Korean leaders have decades of experience trying to manipulate the nuanced arrangements associated with the [United Nations Security Council] mandate and U.S. alliances in Asia; so do some U.S. diplomats, but they will not likely be at center stage [at the meeting].”
Among the many demands Kim could make in exchange for a discussion on denuclearization, dismantling the American military presence in South Korea and halting U.S.-South Korean army drills could top the list.
Tricky points of discussion are typically worked out by lower-level diplomats ahead of diplomatic summits, according to Kelly: “But with only eight weeks to go, that means Donald Trump has to do a lot of the work directly in the meeting room and it’s just not clear to me that the president has ever done anything like this before.”