South Korea's Moon heads to White House to huddle with Trump as North Korea peace talks teeter
South Korean President Moon Jae-in heads to Washington on Monday as President Trump is reportedly asking advisers if he should pull out of a June 12 summit in Sinagpore with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, given the political risks of failure. Moon has been a driving force in the de-escalation of hostility between Trump, Kim, and South Korea, but some Trump aides and outside analysts question whether Moon oversold Kim's willingness to give up his nuclear weapons. Kim's government surprised the White House last week when it broke off peace talks with South Korea and said it would never denuclearize under the conditions suggested by Washington. Trump asked Kim in a call on Saturday night why Pyongyang's public statement seems different than private assurances Moon had conveyed after he met with Kim in April, The New York Times reports.
"It increasingly looks like the Moon administration overstated North Korea's willingness to deal," tweeted Robert Kelly, a professor of political science at South Korea's Pusan National University. "Moon will probably get an earful over that" from Trump. Seoul says the main agenda when Moon meets with Trump Tuesday will be preparing for the summit. Kim appears very conversant about the details of his nuclear program, but White House aides are "concerned about what kind of grasp Mr. Trump has on the details of the North Korea program," the Times reports. "Aides who have recently left the administration say Mr. Trump has resisted the kind of detailed briefings about enrichment capabilities, plutonium reprocessing, nuclear weapons production, and missile programs that [former President Barack] Obama and President George W. Bush regularly sat through."