Over the weekend, President Donald Trump took an unprecedented action of crossing over the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in the Korean peninsula, taking 20 steps within the nation of North Korea, becoming the first sitting president to ever do so.
There’s no doubt that the president’s actions are a major historical milestone. But will they actually lead to any peace deal between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un?
Trump has longed for a denuclearization agreement with North Korea for quite some time, but talks stalled in February after Trump delivered an ultimatum to Kim that neither leaders would budge on, resulting in the president walking out of the meeting without any concessions from Kim, International Business Times reported. Since that time, no signals from either country about the possibility of resumed talks have been produced.
The two leaders did agree to resume talks at some point during their meeting over the weekend. But the agreement isn’t one that is set in stone — no date has been announced, for instance.
A denuclearization deal between the nations has faced many difficulties, including what the term “denuclearization” might mean, Slate previously reported. For instance, does it mean a total reduction of nuclear armaments by North Korea, or simply ending their production of future weapons?
Some have questioned whether Trump’s meeting at the DMZ was little more than a photo opportunity than an actual step forward in dialogues.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut decried the meeting as not a negotiation at all.
Let’s be clear. Trump isn’t negotiating with North Korea. He is normalizing North Korea. That’s what’s happening here.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 30, 2019
Others who have negotiated with North Korea in the past took a critical tone as well.
“I’m not sure what it is that President Trump is trying to accomplish, because while all this engagement has gone on, there has been no decline in the stockpile of North Korean nuclear weapons or missiles,” Joseph Yun, a former U.S. representative for North Korea, said.
While the Trump-Kim meeting was billed as being an impromptu event, where Trump tweeted out the idea and Kim accepted it, others had their doubts. Washington Post correspondent Simon Denyer, for instance, told PBS NewsHour that wasn’t likely how this event was orchestrated.
“We spent 24 hours with the president building it up minute by minute, almost sort of saying all through the day are they trying to make arrangements…leading us to believe that this was going to be a surprising dramatic final thing,” Denyer noted. “I don’t think many people really bought that line.”
It would be atypical for such an event to happen that way, he added.
“Two leaders from two powerful countries don’t tend to organize meetings on the basis of a tweet that’s not noticed,” Denyer said, adding it was “reality TV at its best.”