President Trump officially announced on Thursday that the date has been set for his once-unthinkable summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. A day after the U.S. successfully brought home three American citizens who had been imprisoned in the dictatorship, Trump tweeted the good news about the impending event.
“The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th,” he wrote. “We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!”
In welcoming home the prisoners the night before, President Trump said that he was extremely optimistic about what the two world leaders could accomplish.
“I think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful,” he said. “My proudest achievement will be when we denuclearize that entire peninsula.”
To say that it’s extraordinary that we’ve reached this point would be a grand understatement. Not only is it historically significant because no U.S. president has ever had a face-to-face meeting with a North Korean leader before, but it seemed wildly unlikely a year ago that such a meeting would ever be possible with Trump and Kim specifically. Hurling insults and threats at each other through state media and social media in kind, the two leaders seemed more likely destined for nuclear confrontation than disarmament talks. Scientists actually moved the atomic clock ahead based solely on the rhetoric flying from the two leaders.
But even as Trump himself was using “fire and fury” rhetoric to warn “Little Rocket Man” away from his constant threats, the administration as a whole was working to put North Korea under some of the strictest economic sanctions of all time. It’s unclear right now whether it was our sanctions, our pressure on China, or Trump administration diplomacy that caused the sea change, but it is clear that as we turned the page on the new year, Kim Jong Un decided it was time to try something new.
First, he reached out to South Korea in the hopes of sharing the stage at the Winter Olympics. After that went well, Kim met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and held a summit with South Korean leadership. That led to the two countries declaring an end to the Korean War, a declaration that will need America’s signature to become official.
And now we’re talking about a summit between two of the most unique leaders in the world.
It remains to be seen if Kim is truly ready to turn over a new leaf or if this is some wily scheme doomed to fail on an international stage. But Trump, unlike any of his predecessors, is willing to take the chance. He knows that the risk of diplomacy is worth it. Will it pay off? Well, for at least three American citizens, it already has.
Hopefully, Wednesday night’s release is only the beginning.