Many have their doubts about Trump-Kim summit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The self-proclaimed master dealmaker is facing doubts from multiple corners as he prepares to negotiate with Kim Jong Un.

Ahead of President Donald Trump’s landmark summit this week with the North Korean leader, U.S. allies and many Republicans are raising concerns that he may impulsively give in on issues they say should be deal-breakers for the United States. Ambiguity about exactly what “denuclearization” must look like has left some wringing their hands, while others fear he may yield on a longtime North Korean wish the U.S. withdraw some or all of its military presence on the Korean Peninsula.

There are worries from some quarters about Kim’s intentions and his willingness to actually follow through on any commitment he might make in Singapore.

“My suspicion remains that he is going to try to get as much sanctions relief as possible without having to give up his weapons,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Rubio, who applauded Trump’s now-reversed decision to cancel the summit, said at the time it was apparent Kim’s goal “was either to gain sanctions relief in exchange for nothing or to collapse international sanctions by making the U.S. appear to be the unreasonable party.”

The concerns have been voiced on both sides of the aisle in Congress, where top Senate Democrats have sent Trump a letter insisting any deal will be a bad one unless it forces North Korea to comply with a long list of onerous demands. Even Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, generally averse to publicly criticizing fellow Republican leaders, warned the president “you could get snookered.”

In their letter, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for any agreement with North Korea to meet five key points: all weapons of mass destruction be removed or dismantled; there be no uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing; it end all ballistic missile testing; it allow “anytime, anywhere” inspections of its facilities; and the deal be permanent.

“The president has talked tough when it comes to North Korea, but more important than any tweet, more important than any comment about the size of the big red button will be the president’s willingness to stand strong and secure a strong and enduring deal,” Schumer said.

Trump, clearly eager for a summit he can sell as a success, has played into the concerns he may find himself outmatched at the negotiating table by Kim. Kim’s detailed command of the issues central to his country’s nuclear conflict has impressed U.S. officials who have interacted with him since Trump’s diplomacy with the North began.

“I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude,” Trump said of the summit before meeting Thursday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “It’s about willingness to get things done.”

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