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The Singapore Summit took place in June 2018.

Before then, the historic Inter-Korean Summit took place on April 27.

How far things progressed over the past six months!

This post covers the events and negotiations that led to the Inter-Korean Summit.

On December 28, 2017, President Trump tweeted his disappointment that China was ‘allowing oil to go into North Korea’.

Who can forget this tweet from the New Year in 2018?

Four days later:

A week later, Trump rightly took the Wall Street Journal to task for misquoting him:

… I said “I’d have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un,” a big difference. Fortunately we now record conversations with reporters…

Then he began consulting with geopolitical veterans, including Henry Kissinger:

On March 5, Reuters reported (emphases mine):

Feeling the pressure of sanctions, North Korea seems “sincere” in its apparent willingness to halt nuclear tests if it held denuclearization talks with the United States, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday as U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials voiced skepticism about any discussions …

Word of possible talks was delivered by a South Korean delegation on its return from a first-ever meeting with North Korean leader Kim in Pyongyang on Monday.

The following day, the AP reported that talks between North and South Korea would be scheduled for April:

Chung Eui-yong, the South Korean official who spoke after participating in talks with Kim in Pyongyang, also said the North Korean dictator had agreed to meet with South Korea’s president at a border village in late April.

North Korea didn’t announce what South Korea on Tuesday described as agreements between the rivals. But the North’s state media earlier reported Kim had “openhearted” talks with South Korean envoys, expressed his willingness to “vigorously advance” North-South relations and made a “satisfactory” agreement on the inter-Korean summit talks.

On March 7, the AP featured a timeline article on progress, including this:

South Korea also said North Korea has agreed to halt tests of nuclear weapons and missiles if it holds talks with the United States on denuclearization.

The Conservative Treehouse (CTH) said that this had been in the works since at least August 2017 — when Charlottesville occurred — and that other countries, particularly China, were involved:

All of this was generally under-reported and took place months before President Trump arrived in Asia last year.  The U.S. media was busy pushing racism and Charlottesville narratives.  More importantly this quiet activity took place while President Trump directed US Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer to begin a section 301 trade investigation (Intellectual Property theft) into China.

President Trump was ramping up the economic pressure on Chinese President Xi Jinping; but more specifically Lighthizer’s action was targeting Beijing’s command and control economy along with the behavior of North Korea.

China -vs- U.S. moves have been taking place in Europe, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Cuba, Venezuela, India, Libya as well as Mexico, Canada and ASEAN nations.  When dragon puts a footprint in Mexico, eagle puts a footprint in Vietnam.   When eagle puts a print in India, dragon puts a print in Pakistan…. this has been going on for well over a year, well beyond the media horizon, and almost no-one’s paying attention.

On March 9, BT.com reported that Trump and Kim were to meet in May:

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump plan to meet in May for nuclear disarmament talks …

It would have been an unthinkable suggestion just a few months ago, when the insults were at their peak — Mr Trump was a “senile dotard” and Mr Kim was “Little Rocket Man”.

Trump officials had received a briefing in Washington from the South Koreans beforehand.

Even normally critical media pundits acknowledged that Trump’s ‘madman approach’ to North Korea was working.

The South Koreans issued an affirmative statement. The South China Morning Post reported:

South Korea’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong made the announcement of Kim’s offer in Washington on Thursday (Friday morning Hong Kong time).

Chung said Kim was “committed to denuclearisation” and would refrain from any further nuclear and missile tests.

He said Kim wanted to meet Trump as “soon as possible” and that Trump said “he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula.

The White House posted Chung Eui-yong’s full statement, including this:

Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests. He understands that the routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue

The Republic of Korea, along with the United States, Japan, and our many partners around the world remain fully and resolutely committed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Along with President Trump, we are optimistic about continuing a diplomatic process to test the possibility of a peaceful resolution.

The Republic of Korea, the United States, and our partners stand together in insisting that we not repeat the mistakes of the past, and that the pressure will continue until North Korea matches its words with concrete actions.

A video of his announcement can be found here.

That Sunday, March 11, the news shows were abuzz with analysis of the upcoming US-North Korea talks, including perspectives from John Bolton and Mike Pompeo.

Even the anti-Trump Independent in the UK had praise for the American president:

… during a recent, daily grumble about The Donald, I got thinking; if you look past the ridiculous Twitter pronouncements, and the President’s general veneer – what has he actually done? How bad has the 45th President of the United States actually been for the country?

The answer, it might surprise you, is not that bad at all.

Stock market up, unemployment down. After plateauing for much of 2015 and 2016, numbers of manufacturing jobs have been on the rise since Trump’s inauguration …

On foreign policy, he’s been brash and unpredictable, but successful. He can’t take full credit for the defeat of Isis in their traditional strongholds, but they have been defeated. He can’t take full credit for defusing tensions with North Korea – but under President Trump, Kim Jong-un is becoming more receptive to talks with South Korea, and even sent a team to the Winter Olympics. His “quirky” style of diplomacy has led to, in the past few days, talk on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the closest thing to a peaceful North Korea we’ve seen in years. On Friday it was even announced that Trump will be meeting with Kim Jong-un

On Wednesday, March 14, news emerged that North Korea was involved with Syria. The Washington Free Beacon reported:

Regional reports have begun to surface indicating North Korea has neared completion of the construction of an underground military base located near Qardaha in Syria, the hometown of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“According to … satellite images and a military source the underground facility has been under construction for seven years, started by the beginning if the Syrian revolution in March 2011,” Zaman Al Wasl, a Syrian news outlet, reported earlier this month. “The high level of secrecy and tight guard in the North Korean base raise speculations whether it’s a nuclear facility or overseas depot for North Korean weapons.”

U.S. officials told the Washington Free Beacon they are monitoring these reports and efforts by North Korea to help Assad rebuild Syria’s chemical weapons factories.

“We are aware of reports regarding possible DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] assistance to Syria to rebuild its chemical weapons capabilities,” a State Department official, speaking on background, told the Free Beacon. “We take these allegations very seriously and we are working assiduously to prevent the Assad regime from obtaining material and equipment to support its chemical weapons program.”

The Trump administration has been engaged in efforts to counter North Korea’s proliferation in Syria, particularly its efforts to supply Assad with chemical weapons.

On Friday, March 23, Legal Insurrection reported that Trump signed the Omnibus Bill with North Korea — and Iran — in mind:

Why the need for government funding for at least 6 months? That could have waited for another short term funding bill, some more muddling through, perhaps even muddling through until the November elections.

What was the rush to sign a bill with increases in authorized military spending NOW?

While Trump ran as someone who wasn’t looking at foreign policy as his reason for election, his presidency and attention increasingly are turning to foreign potential conflicts. In the next couple of months Trump will be dealing with two major potential conflict areas: North Korea and Iran.

As to North Korea, Trump is gearing up for talks with “Little Rocket Man.” As to Iran, Trump is facing fights both with the Europeans and the Iranians as to whether Obama’s Iran Nuclear deal survives. Trump already has made moves to strengthen the U.S. posture. Adding John Bolton as National Security Advisor sends a get-tough signal, a message that Trump will not repeat the appeasement mistakes of Obama-Kerry.

As Trump approaches potential conflict with North Korea and Iran, he could spend the prior months rolling through one “shutdown” after another, one-month spending bills, an inadequate military budget held hostage by Democrats, and the prospect of months more such turmoil at least through the midterm elections.

Alternatively, Trump could approach the North Koreans and Iranians with government funding in place including substantial increases for the military.

Do you think the North Koreans and Iranians care about the domestic spending fights that now occupy media coverage? I doubt it. I do think they care about a Trump focused on rebuilding the military and a U.S. military which has just been given additional resources. Trump wants to be the strong horse, a dramatic change from the Obama administration posture. Add to this increased military aggressiveness by Russia and China.

Elsewhere, speculation returned to a soundbite from the end of 2017 about ‘freeing 25,000,000 slaves worldwide’. Was it about human trafficking or was it about North Korea, as Q commented? (Image below courtesy of Reddit’s Q-oriented GreatAwakening)

On March 28, Trump tweeted:

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had this to say:

That day, the KORUS trade agreement between the US and South Korea was agreed upon in principle:

On March 29, the AP announced that a highly historic summit between North and South Korea would take place on April 27:

Summit meeting will be only the third time leaders of the divided Koreas have met in the 65 years since the end of the Korean War.

On April 9, WND interviewed Peter Schweitzer, author of Secret Empires: How Our Politicians Hide Corruption and Enrich Their Families and Friends, who said that China was a huge part of the North Korea picture:

“My view has always been that absent China skirting the rules and going fast and loose with commercial ties, North Korea would be on the brink of collapse,” Schweizer told WND in an interview.

“I think that’s the opportunity that Trump has, to go to the Chinese and say: ‘Look, the bottom line is you need to deal with this. You need to cut off trade, you need to cut off commercial ties to help us deal with North Korea. Nobody else is in the position to do it the way that you are.’”

Schweizer said critical sectors such as minerals and energy “are what keeps North Korea bumping along while the people are starving.”

“You take that stuff away and the regime has a massive, economic problem,” he said.

On April 17, just days before the summit between the two Koreas, CNBC reported:

North and South Korea are in talks to announce a permanent end to the officially declared military conflict between the two countries, daily newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed South Korean official.

Ahead of a summit next week between North Korean premier Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, lawmakers from the neighboring states were thought to be negotiating the details of a joint statement that could outline an end to the confrontation

Pyongyang and Seoul have technically been at war since the 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended with a truce — and not a peace treaty. Geopolitical tensions have occasionally flared up since the armistice, although to date both countries have managed to avoid another devastating conflict.

CTH’s TheLastRefuge — aka Sundance — pointed out the change in 12 months:

That day, Trump welcomed Japan’s prime minister Abe to Mar a Lago along with a delegation. CTH told us:

The formal bilateral meeting began shortly before 4 p.m. POTUS Trump and PM Abe together with translators and delegations. The U.S. side: Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Adviser John Bolton, US Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty and National Security Council Asia director Matthew Pottinger.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said their one-on-one meeting was productive. On North Korea, “for the first time in the history of the world there will be a summit meeting between the United States and North Korea”, Abe said. Prime Minister Abe said “Trump has applied maximum pressure on the North and credited it for leading to the direct talks.”

Trump described their meeting as ‘great’.

The next day, we found out that Mike Pompeo had already been in North Korea on secret talks:

The White House declined further comment.

On April 19, South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in was optimistic about the upcoming summit. NBC reported:

Moon said big-picture agreements about denuclearization, establishing a peace regime and normalization of relations between the two Koreas and the United States should not be difficult to reach through summits between the North and South, and between the North and the United States.

“I don’t think denuclearization has different meanings for South and North Korea,” Moon said during a lunch with chief executives of Korean media companies. “The North is expressing a will for a complete denuclearization.”

“They have not attached any conditions that the U.S. cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea,” he continued. “All they are talking about is the end of hostile policies against North Korea, followed by a guarantee of security.”

On April 21, Yonhap News Agency reported:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has announced that the country will suspend nuclear and missile tests and shut down a nuclear test site in the northern area, state media said Saturday.

From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

Trump was delighted.

Even CNN had to acknowledge this was yuge news — ha ha — on Wolf Blitzer’s show no less. Mediaite has a report and video:

CNN’s Will Ripley, one of the few journalists who regularly reports from the repressive Hermit Kingdom, phoned in to Wolf Blitzer’s show on Friday night to cover the breaking news …

“Wolf, I have to say, I am really almost speechless here at the pace at which North Korea has done this U-turn,” Ripley reacted. “This all started with Donald Trump agreeing to sit down with a summit with Kim Jong Un.”

Meanwhile, Mike Pompeo was able to guarantee North Korea’s release of three American citizens that day. They returned home on May 10.

On April 22, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin met with the South Koreans:

Productive discussion with South Korean DPM KIM Dong-Yeon. The US remains committed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

That day, we found out more about Mike Pompeo’s secret trip to Pyongyang from the Korean Noon news agency:

Mike Pompeo met with KJU 3-4 times during his 3-day stay in Pyongyang per Asahi Shimbun. KJU reportedly said he’s on the same wavelength with Pompeo: “This is the first time I’m meeting someone who has the same fire in the belly as I do” (loose translation)

Also:

Per Asahi, KJU conveyed to Pompeo NK could “completely denuclearize” and that USFK would not have to leave. KJU wants full diplomatic relations with US and easing of UNSCR & bilateral sanctions in return. Pompeo went with 5 CIA staff and was aided by NIS

Pompeo first met with Kim on April 1:

The meetings were very successful per Asahi. Pompeo first met KJU on April 1 and that’s when he was told about “complete denuclearization”. Pompeo was aided by NIS chief Suh Hoon, who has formed working relationships with both Pompeo and NK’s Kim Yong-chol

Not everything was 100% successful:

But there are still differences: Asahi says while KJU may have expressed “willingness to denuclearize,” he was reluctant to include specific, time-based clauses as part of summit agreement, while calling for diplomatic relations and easing of sanctions.

Noon also told us of an ongoing CIA presence in North Korea:

CIA employees in Pyongyang? You don’t have to travel that far down the memory lane to realize this happened before: Avril Haines and Michael Morel were both in Pyongyang in 2012 during Obama’s term but they didn’t get to meet KJU. But they’ve had contacts

Pompeo was finally confirmed as Rex Tillerson’s replacement at State on April 26:

The historic Inter-Korean Summit between the two Korean leaders took place as planned on April 27 (videos here, here and here):

Kim walked across the border to South Korea for the summit, which was held in Panmunjom in the DMZ.

Kim wrote this message in the guest book at Peace House:

‘new history starts now; age of peace, from the starting point of history’

The leaders issued a joint statement:

The description for that video reads, in part:

During the Friday summit, the first between the two Koreas’ leader in more than a decade, Kim was accompanied by his sister and confidante, Kim Yo-jong, and the 90-year-old nominal head of the North Korean state, Kim Yong-nam.

During the meeting, the South Korean president expressed hope for achievement of a “bold agreement.”

The White House sent this message:

On the occasion of Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-ins historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, we wish the Korean people well. We are hopeful that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula. The United States appreciates the close coordination with our ally, the Republic of Korea, and looks forward to continuing robust discussions in preparation for the planned meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks.

By the end of the day (full video here):

The Korean leaders then shared dinner together.

Ambassador Chris Hill summed up the first day as follows:

President Trump sent his congratulations. The South Korean foreign minister remembered Trump in an interview with CNN’s Christine Amanpour:

South Korea’s Foreign Minister tells me in Seoul that “clearly credit goes to President Trump” for bringing North Korea to the negotiating table. “He’s been determined to come to grips with this from day one,” Kang Kyung-wha says.

The Straits Times published the full text of the Panmunjom Declaration for peace, prosperity and unification of the Korean Peninsula which resulted from the Inter-Korean Summit. Excerpts follow:

1) South and North Korea affirmed the principle of determining the destiny of the Korean nation on their own accord and agreed to bring forth the watershed moment for the improvement of inter-Korean relations by fully implementing all existing agreements and declarations adopted between the two sides thus far.

2) South and North Korea agreed to hold dialogue and negotiations in various fields including at high level, and to take active measures for the implementation of the agreements reached at the summit.

3) South and North Korea agreed to establish a joint liaison office with resident representatives of both sides in the Gaeseong region in order to facilitate close consultation between the authorities as well as smooth exchanges and cooperation between the peoples.

4) South and North Korea agreed to encourage more active cooperation, exchanges, visits and contacts at all levels in order to rejuvenate the sense of national reconciliation and unity.

5) South and North Korea agreed to endeavour to swiftly resolve the humanitarian issues that resulted from the division of the nation, and to convene the Inter-Korean Red Cross Meeting to discuss and solve various issues, including the reunion of separated families.

6) South and North Korea agreed to actively implement the projects previously agreed in the 2007 October 4 Declaration, in order to promote balanced economic growth and co-prosperity of the nation.

The two leaders agreed, through regular meetings and direct telephone conversations, to hold frequent and candid discussions on issues vital to the nation, to strengthen mutual trust and to jointly endeavour to strengthen the positive momentum towards continuous advancement of inter-Korean relations as well as peace, prosperity and unification of the Korean Peninsula.

In this context, President Moon Jae In agreed to visit Pyongyang this fall.

Tomorrow’s post will feature analysis and the events that led to the Singapore Summit, which President Trump attended after the G7 in mid-June.

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