sunny.png
Thursday October 17th, 2019 1:53PM

US has a daunting to-do list to get ready for NKorea summit

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Who sits where? What's on the agenda? Will they eat together? What's the security plan?

President Donald Trump and his team have a daunting to-do list to work through as they prepare for next month's expected summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump's plan to meet with Kim may have come as a surprise decision, but his team hopes to leave nothing to chance when they come together in Singapore. They're gaming out policy plans, negotiating tactics, even menu items.

With two unpredictable leaders, it's hard to anticipate every possibility. But White House aides are expecting hard-ball negotiating tactics — already in evidence this week as the North Koreans cast fresh doubt on the sit-down.

The president said Thursday that preparations were underway: "Our people are literally dealing with them right now in terms of making arrangements for the meeting."

The two sides, he said, "are continuing to negotiate in terms of location, the location as to where to meet, how to meet, rooms, everything else. They've been negotiating like nothing happened."

Leader summits on this level are a massive undertaking. Much like icebergs, only a small fraction of the work is visible above the waterline. And when the meeting involves the heads of two technically still-warring states, the list of logistical concerns expands, including sensitive items like the number and deployment of security officers. Officials on both sides are still determining the format for the meeting or meetings, whether Trump and Kim will share a meal, and the extent of any one-on-one interactions.

All of that comes as the U.S. formulates its strategies for the talks, including what the U.S. is prepared to give up and how precisely to define "denuclearization" on the Korean Peninsula — Trump's stated goal.

"I would say there are hundreds if not thousands of hours put into summit preparations," said Patrick McEachern, a public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a former State Department official.

Scott Mulhauser, a former chief of staff at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, said that in the leadup to summit meetings, staffs try to anticipate the various negotiating positions their counterparts might take, adding that "if you're not gaming that out, you're not preparing adequately."

Trump is relying heavily on his top diplomat, Mike Pompeo, in preparing for the summit. Pompeo has met with Kim twice in Pyongyang, once as secretary of state and once as CIA chief, and has spent more time with the reclusive leader than any other American official. The amount of face time Pompeo has had with Kim rivals even that of most Asian leaders, apart from the Chinese.

Pompeo assembled a working group to handle negotiations with North Korea led by a retired senior CIA official with deep experience in the region. That team, based at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, remains the center of the administration's North Korea expertise.

Planning for the summit started quickly after Trump announced on Twitter his plans to meet with Kim, but kicked into higher gear after John Bolton became Trump's national security adviser last month. In addition to Pompeo's two trips to Pyongyang, U.S. officials have also been coordinating with the North Koreans through what's known as the "New York channel" — North Korean diplomats posted to their country's mission to the United Nations.

A key question is the format for the meeting if the two countries are able to proceed to full-fledged nuclear negotiations, U.S. officials have said. That includes decisions about whether to keep the talks limited to the U.S. and North Korea or whether to bring other governments into the process, such as South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. Also key is what the U.S. will negotiate away.

"One thing that is unclear to us is what the U.S. is willing to negotiate in exchange for North Korea's promises on denuclearization," said Jean Lee, director of the North Korea program at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a former Associated Press bureau chief in Pyongyang. "The North Koreans are going to be armed and very ready to negotiate. The Trump administration needs to be ready as well."

One initial hurdle that Pompeo managed to clear during his second visit to Pyongyang was the venue for the summit. North Korea was adamant that Kim not be put in any kind of situation where his security could be at risk, U.S. officials said. North Korean officials pushed very hard for the meeting to be in Pyongyang, so Kim would not have to leave the country and they could have 100 percent control over access and communications, according to the officials.

When North Korea objected to Trump's preferred choice of the demilitarized zone on the border between North and South Korea, the U.S. countered with Singapore. Some White House officials also opposed the DMZ choice, believing the optics on Korean rapprochement would distract from the focus on denuclearization.

U.S. officials said they believed one reason the North Koreans agreed to Singapore was that Kim had just returned from a successful trip to China the day before Pompeo arrived for his second visit. Many analysts, including U.S. officials, believe that Kim's flight to the Chinese port of Dalian — the first trip abroad by aircraft by a North Korean leader in decades — was likely a test of the country's ability to safely transport Kim by air. Kim's previous trips to China had all been by train, as was the custom of his father.

The North formally signed off on Singapore while Pompeo was in Pyongyang. Even before Trump announced the summit site by tweet a day after Pompeo's return, White House officials who traveled with Pompeo to Pyongyang were already on the ground in Singapore to begin working out summit logistics.

Very few people have had much direct contact with the North Koreans, so there are few people for the Trump administration to check with for guidance.

Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico governor and U.N. ambassador who has negotiated with the North Koreans, had one suggestion. He said that in the meeting setting, the North Koreans will be very formal, so building a rapport between the two will be vital.

His main advice: "Try to find some private time between President Trump and Kim Jong Un."

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP World News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Markle's father will not attend her wedding
Meghan Markle says her father will not be attending her wedding to Prince Harry, and has expressed hope that he can be "given the space" to focus on his health
6:42AM ( 10 minutes ago )
US has a daunting to-do list to get ready for NKorea summit
The list of preparations the US needs to do for next month's expected summit with North Korea is long and daunting
6:34AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Ireland warns Brexit talks could collapse over border issue
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is warning Britain to say how it plans to keep open his country's border with Northern Ireland or face the possible collapse of a Brexit deal
6:23AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
AP Interview: Anwar wants Malaysia to scrap race policies
Pardoned Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim says decades-old affirmative action policies for the country's Malay majority must be discarded in favor of a new program to help the poor regardless of race
4:47AM ( 2 hours ago )
On eve of anniversary, Giuliani says time for probe to end
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani urges special counsel's team to wrap up investigation on eve of anniversary
4:21AM ( 2 hours ago )
US has daunting to-do list to prepare for NKorea summit
President Donald Trump and his team have a daunting to-do list to work through as they prepare for next month's expected summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
4:08AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
US births hit a 30-year low, despite good economy
Last year saw the lowest number of U.S. births in 30 years, with birth rates declining not only for women in their teens and 20s but also women in their 30s
12:22AM ( 6 hours ago )
Ethics director questions Trump's reimbursement to lawyer
Ethics director questions why Trump didn't disclose last year that he owed personal attorney Michael Cohen for unspecified "expenses"
12:11AM ( 6 hours ago )
Democrats hope net neutrality issue will win votes this fall
Democrats hope their support of net neutrality will win votes in fall because of GOP support of rollback of Obama-era rules
12:10AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online National News
The Latest: Markle's father will not attend her wedding
Meghan Markle says her father will not be attending her wedding to Prince Harry, and has expressed hope that he can be "given the space" to focus on his health
6:42AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Ireland warns Brexit talks could collapse over border issue
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is warning Britain to say how it plans to keep open his country's border with Northern Ireland or face the possible collapse of a Brexit deal
6:23AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Wedding practice: Rehearsal of royal nuptials due in Windsor
Royal wedding organizers prepare rehearsal of the proceedings to take place in Windsor
5:46AM ( 1 hour ago )
Burundi votes in referendum on the president's power
Burundi votes in a referendum proposing constitutional changes that could extend the president's rule until 2034
5:27AM ( 1 hour ago )
Asian stocks mostly lower as investors digest US, Japan data
Asian stocks mostly lower as investors digest US, Japan data
5:08AM ( 1 hour ago )