US president Donald Trump may have boasted of “historic” outcomes from his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month, but it looks like there will be no US-North Korea bonhomie after all. North Korea termed the latest visit of the US secretary of state Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang “regrettable”, accusing the US of making “gangster-like” demands. The Trump administration had made much of North Korea “committing” to denuclearisation in the Trump-Kim meet, even though the hermit kingdom has reneged on several such commitments in the past. For all the US’s bark and bluster, the two sides are still warring over what denuclearisation would mean. North Korea, it should be noted, has always maintained that denuclearisation includes reciprocity on the part of the US.
North Korea has now said that the US’s attitude to negotiations “might rattle our willingness for denuclearisation that had been firm.” While it was careful not to attack Trump—the official statement following Pompeo’s visit said that the country continues “to maintain trust towards president Trump”—there can be no greater loss of face for the US if North Korea were to pull out of any talks/negotiations with it and steps up its adversarial role. The Kim-Trump camaraderie had made traditional US allies jittery, and with the cessation of the joint military exercise with South Korea, the Trump regime had signalled inconsistency with its Korea policy. While the world at large had expected that North Korea would use the slightest pretext to renege on its “commitments”, the Trump administration favoured cashing in on dramatic announcements over better sense and actual foreign policy gains.