Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came away from a two-day visit to North Korea on Saturday without meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un or securing a breakthrough in efforts to implement the denuclearization agreement signed by Washington and Pyongyang in Singapore last month….[He said the talks] were “productive” and he claimed progress on “central issues” between the two longtime adversaries.
His rosy outlook was almost immediately rejected by North Korea’s foreign ministry, which called the U.S. attitude to the talks “regrettable” and accused the United States of making unilateral demands for denuclearization. Pompeo just hours earlier said the two sides engaged in “good-faith negotiations.”
More Pompeo: A US-NK meeting is set for on or around July 12 at the interKorean border to discuss the process for the repatriation of Korean War remains (something agreed to at the Singapore summit)
— Elise Hu (@elisewho) July 7, 2018
So North Korea is stalling on even the simplest promise made last month. Needless to say, this gives them more and more time to build out their nuclear program while the United States engages in endless futile talks over trivia.
Just for the sake of context, it’s worth noting that this is why treaty talks usually start at lower levels and only turn into presidential-level meetings toward the end, when the basics have been settled and the top guys can make decisions on a few remaining hard issues. Trump did it the other way around because it made good TV, but the result is that none of the basics have even been discussed, let alone settled, and even if the talks are done in good faith it will take years to do this.
Unfortunately, there’s every reason to think they aren’t being held in good faith. You see, Kim Jong Un likes good TV too.