Quoted: Japan Times on Trump-Kim Jong Un Summit


Breaking News Piece: Trump Agrees to Meet with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

I’m surprised by how quickly events moved,” said Mintaro Oba, a former State Department diplomat specializing in North Korea. “I’m willing to bet Donald Trump agreed to the summit offer as soon as he found out, while the rest of the bureaucracy caught up later.”
Oba said the invitation by Kim “was a smart move for the North Koreans to take the initiative and propose this summit because they look like they’re acting in good faith.
“It gives them a lever to pressure the United States to reciprocate on their terms,” he said. “It’s possible the North Koreans may even threaten to cancel at some point if they don’t approve of something the United States has done or said, calculating that Trump would not want the loss of face of losing his summit opportunity.”
Still, Oba said the U.S. could regain the initiative by bringing “an ambitious and creative proposal to the summit.”
“This offers a very public and high-profile stage to do that,” he said.

On Japan After the Summit Invitation: Abe to Visit U.S. in April to Discuss North Korea with Trump 

Mintaro Oba, a former State Department diplomat specializing in North Korea, agrees.
“Prime Minister Abe has shown repeatedly that he is a deft operator when it comes to keeping Japan in Washington’s good graces. He may not be thrilled by this development, but he is going to make every effort to be on the same page as the United States,” he said.
Analysis Piece: Trump-Kim Summit Expectations High, But North Korea Unlikely to Part With Its "Treasured Nuclear Sword"

“This is in no way Nixon’s visit to China,” said Mintaro Oba, a former State Department diplomat specializing in North Korea. “That was a calculated strategic shift by the United States. This was a tactical, reactive move in response to a North Korea initiative, agreed to by a U.S. president who thinks he’s a great negotiator and wants people to see him that way.”

. . .

Still, Oba said that although it was “unusual” for a high-level summit to come ahead of lower-level meetings, “this may be what we need to make progress and silence the critics who say the problem is that the United States isn’t willing to engage.”

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