It was always going to be a political gamble when US President Donald Trump announced his plans to meet North Korean dictator Kin Jong Un face to face, but there are now growing signs that this gamble could be about to backfire. Following the initial optimism on both sides after it was announced that the two leaders would sit down for a meeting in Singapore on June 12, it now seems increasingly likely that the meeting may not even happen after both the United States and North Korea have once again ramped up their rhetoric. In fact, Trump himself now says that there is a ‘very substantial chance’ the meeting won’t happen, which marks a dramatic turnaround from only a few weeks ago when he was already dreaming about his chance of winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
As of writing, the June 12 meeting in Singapore is still scheduled to happen. However, recent statements and actions from both sides have continued to cast doubt on whether or not it will actually go through. For his part, President Trump seems to think that much of the blame for the sudden uncertainty surrounding the proposed meeting lies with China and its president, Xi Jinping, who may be behind the Kim regime’s sudden hard line stance.
Various people within Washington believe that the Chinese President has been putting pressure on the Kim regime to resist American advances in the fear that a unified Korea could potentially allow the US to extend its influence right up to China’s borders. This theory seems borne out by the recent rhetoric used by North Korea, which threatened to cancel the proposed meeting due to the ‘repugnance’ of new US National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Nonetheless, there are many who feel that the potential cancellation of the meeting has more to do with both sides suddenly realizing just how far apart their goals are now that the initial glow of announcing the historic meeting has faded. In particular, the US might be finally realizing just how unrealistic its goal of getting North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal is, while the Kim regime has been rightly put off by Bolton’s comments about using the ‘Libya model’ in North Korea. As well, there is also speculation that Kim Jong Un himself is now worried about a potential military coup occurring in North Korea while he’s away in Singapore meeting with Trump.
Of course, both sides still have several weeks to attempt to work out their differences in order to save the meeting. Nonetheless, that possibility now looks far more remote than it did just a few weeks ago.