Second Trump-Kim Yong Un summit announced, North Korea “will become a great economic powerhouse”

After the location for a second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Yong Un was announced (It will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 27 and 28) Trump tweeted that “North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Yong Un, will become a great economic powerhouse”.

NY Times: Trump says North Korea talks productive, summit will be in Hanoi

President Donald Trump said on Friday that U.S. diplomats had a “very productive meeting” with North Korean officials, and he announced his summit later this month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would be held in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi.

“My representatives have just left North Korea after a very productive meeting and an agreed upon time and date for the second Summit with Kim Jong Un. It will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 27 & 28,” Trump said on Twitter.

“I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim & advancing the cause of peace!” he said.

Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, held three days of talks in Pyongyang to prepare for the summit, the State Department said on Friday.

In their talks in Pyongyang, from Wednesday to Friday, Biegun and Kim Hyok Chol “discussed advancing President Trump and Chairman Kim’s Singapore summit commitments of complete denuclearization, transforming U.S.-DPRK relations, and building a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula,” the State Department said.Its statement, which referred to North Korea by the acronym for its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, gave no indication of any progress in the talks.

While in the U.S. view North Korea has yet to take concrete steps to give up its nuclear weapons, it complains that Washington has done little to reciprocate for its freezing of nuclear and missile testing and dismantling of some facilities.

North Korea has repeatedly urged a lifting of punishing U.S.-led sanctions, a formal end to the war, and security guarantees.

Trump, eager for a foreign policy win to distract from domestic troubles, has been keen for a second summit despite a lack of significant moves by North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. He and Biegun have stressed the economic benefits to North Korea if it does so.

One can only wonder what thoughts are behind this tweet.

Will Trump help or hinder Korean peace deal?

The North and South Korean leaders have had an historic meeting, and the prospects of an official peace agreement and de-nuclearisation looking promising.

US President Donald Trump has been typically brash and bold in public statements, ahead of a planned meeting with Kim Yong-un next month. Will he help or hinder game changing agreements in Korea? Who knows?

While the situation looks markedly improved remember that Trump played a prominent and provocative role in recent escalations, raising risks substantially. One bad decision could have had horrendous results – Trump threatened to destroy North Korea.

RNZ (ABC): Trump factor could hinder not help Korean deal

The two sides will work towards signing a peace treaty formally ending the Korean war, sixty five years after the armistice was signed.

Both Koreas will work towards the denuclearisation of the peninsula.

The tone and language spoke of, “one nation, one language, one blood”.

“We can make a better future with our hands together,” Kim Jong-un said.

This could be the turning point where North Korea sees a new future beyond just the military – a future where the shattered economy could take precedence over the production and testing of ever greater means of mass murder.

Or it could be more of the same. A shonky regime buying time to further perfect its weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The never shy Donald Trump has claimed credit for getting the North and South together, citing the pressure exerted by his sanctions, his military, and his strategic genius.

But now it’s his turn to make good his self-described talent as the greatest of dealmakers.

Now Mr Trump and Mr Kim will have to size one another up, test the handshake, rattle and roll the alpha cage and see who comes out on top – and who is the loser.

For Mr Trump the salesman’s view of winners and losers could have dangerous consequences.

Both men need to walk away from their talks due in the next six weeks or so able to claim a victory. Humiliation will not work for either party.

They have both tried reciprocal public humiliation, but the tone has changed somewhat, especially in Korea, as it must if a lasting solution is going to be agreed on.

Mr Trump has already warned he would walk out of the talks if he doesn’t like what he’s hearing – and that’s assuming we even get to a face-to-face meeting of such unlike minds.

As with anything Trump it’s bit of a lottery – and it will mostly depend on the resolve of the Korean leaders, either with Trump’s help or despite his involvement.

Will Mr Trump take an America-first view of these talks or look after the interests of South Korea, Japan and even China – and how will any agreement be enforced?

It may come down to whether Trump approaches it as a win for him, or a win for the world. If the Korean situation is successfully defused, with both North and South Korea benefiting without humiliation, then Trump will get some of the credit. There is a risk he will try to get too much for himself.

It is too soon to talk about Nobel prizes, as some have suggested – and if any are eventually dished out over Korea there would have to be joint credit.

Yes, only time will tell, and Trump’s unpredictability and narcissism means that  anything could happen. He may tone down his public bluster and help do an historic deal. The Koreas, China and Japan will be the biggest beneficiaries, and if Trump earns bragging rights then good on him.

Trump may end up hindering, or helping. or both.

Trump slaps Middle East peace

In a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Donald Trump has given hopes of advances in Middle East peace talks a slap, ruling out dealing with the Palestinians unless they do what he wants.

Does this mean his son-in-law Jarod Kushner will be reassigned from his Middle East peace mission?

Last month:  Donald Trump has a plan to bring peace to the Middle East – he just can’t reveal it, says Jared Kushner

President Donald Trump’s push for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians stems from a belief that his broader goals of stopping Iranian aggression and Islamic extremism will not be possible without it, presidential adviser Jared Kushner said in a rare public appearance on Sunday.

“If we’re going to try to create more stability in the region as a whole, you have to solve this issue,” Kushner told Middle East experts gathered at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum. Trump, he said, “sees this as something that has to be solved.”

But nearly a year after Trump named Kushner, his son-in-law and senior White House aide, as point person for what he called “the ultimate deal,” there has been no public indication of where the initiative is heading.

“We’ve solicited a lot of ideas from a lot of places,” Kushner said. “There is obviously a lot of speculation… ‘There is a plan, what is it? Are these four points in or out?’

“We all kind of laugh and say, OK, we’re just not going to play the guessing game… We know what’s in the plan. The Palestinians know what discussions we’ve had with them, the Israelis know.”

Jerusalam Post: TRUMP: IF PALESTINIANS DON’T WANT PEACE, U.S. HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM

Unless the Palestinian Authority shows that it wants to make peace, the US will “not have anything to do with them any longer,” US President Donald Trump said Thursday in Davos before meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I can tell you, Israel does want to make peace, and they [the Palestinians] are going to have to want to make peace too, or we aren’t going to have anything to do with them any longer,” Trump said, sitting next to Netanyahu. “This was not brought up by other negotiators, but it is brought up by me.“

Is this another case of Trump making things difficult for his Middle East peace team led by Kushner?

Trump did not hide his anger toward the Palestinians for snubbing Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to Israel this week, saying that the US will withhold aid funds to them until they return to negotiations.

The Palestinians, he said, “disrespected us” by not “allowing our great vice president to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid support.”

That money, Trump said, will not go to the Palestinians “unless they sit down and negotiate peace.”

Time will tell what happens to the peace process, Trump said, “but respect has to be shown to the US, or we just are not going any further.”

Respect generally needs to be earned, not demanded with ultimatums.

Trump said that the US has a peace proposal, which he characterized as “a great proposal for the Palestinians” and a “very good proposal for Israel.”

He said the proposal “covers a lot of the things that were over the years discussed and agreed on.”

The fact is, he said, “ there were never any deals that came close because you could never get past Jerusalem.”

Trump dismissed critics saying that his Jerusalem decision set back peace, saying that he enhanced the chances of peace by taking the toughest issue off the table.

The issue of Jerusalem hasn’t been taken off the table by Trump, he has inflamed it.

Not surprisingly responses have not been complimentary.

In response to Trump’s words, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeinah said: “If the issue of Jerusalem remains off the table, America will remain away from the table.”

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also responded to Trump’s comments, saying: “Today’s message is clear: President Trump is blackmailing and punishing the Palestinian people for fighting and believing in their freedom and human rights per international law and UN resolutions. President Trump could buy many things with his money, but he won’t be able to buy the dignity of our nation.”

“This is not a game for the people of Palestine. It is about our very existence that continues to be denied by Israel with full US support,” Erekat continued.

“As the US Administration insists to continue promoting international anarchy and rewarding violations of international law, we will continue to use all available political, diplomatic and legal venues in order to achieve the long overdue rights of the Palestinian people, most importantly our right to self-determination.”

Middle East peace was always going to be difficult to achieve. Kushner’s job looks to be a bit harder still now, unless this was his plan all along.