The Washington Post reports: North Korean government officials have been quietly trying to arrange talks with Republican-linked analysts in Washington, in an apparent attempt to make sense of President Trump and his confusing messages to Kim Jong Un’s regime.
The outreach began before the current eruption of threats between the two leaders but probably will become more urgent as Trump and Kim have descended into name-calling that, many analysts worry, sharply increases the chances of potentially catastrophic misunderstandings.
“Their number-one concern is Trump. They can’t figure him out,” said one person with direct knowledge of North Korea’s approach to Asia experts with Republican connections.
There is no suggestion that the North Koreans are interested in negotiations about their nuclear program, and the Trump administration has made clear it is not interested in talking right now. Intermediaries instead seem to want forums for insisting on being recognized as a nuclear state.
At a multilateral meeting in Switzerland earlier this month, North Korea’s representatives were adamant about being recognized as a nuclear-weapons state and showed no willingness to even talk about denuclearization.
But to get a better understanding of American intentions, in the absence of official diplomatic talks with the U.S. government, North Korea’s mission to the United Nations invited Bruce Klingner, a former CIA analyst who is now the Heritage Foundation’s top expert on North Korea, to visit Pyongyang for meetings. [Continue reading…]
Unfortunately, even if Mattis, McMaster, and Tillerson went to Pyongyang, it’s debatable how much light they could shed on the Trump’s thinking — or for that matter whether he has a fully operational cerebral cortex.