President Donald Trump seems determined to address the North Korean nuclear crisis mano a mano when he sits down with the country’s leader next week.
The rest of the world has other ideas. As Trump prepares to meet with Kim Jong Un on June 12, a growing list of foreign leaders is trying to influence the results.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently sent his top envoy to see Kim in Pyongyang and has invited the North Korean to visit Russia soon. South Korea’s president has floated the idea of joining the summit. Japan’s prime minister is rushing to the White House later this week to give Trump last-minute advice.
And for reasons no one fully understands, Syria’s ruthless dictator, Bashar Assad, is reported to be planning a visit to Pyongyang.
The global jockeying may greatly complicate Trump’s plans for dealing with Kim, analysts warned. Some nations will want to shape any nuclear agreement, while others could seek to undermine a resulting deal.
“Everyone wants to see their agenda reflected … no one wants to be the odd man out,” said Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow with New America. “I’m not sure the administration has their eye on the ball on this.”
Trump views himself as a master negotiator and often ignores his aides’ advice. When asked last fall about unfilled U.S. diplomatic posts, Trump told Fox News: “I’m the only one that matters.”
In addition to his “America first” philosophy and general disdain for multilateralism, Trump appears to be approaching North Korea as a two-man negotiation between himself and Kim. When George W. Bush sought to engage North Korea in the 2000s, by contrast, he joined a formal group of four other nations for the so-called six-party talks. Trump has shown no interest in reviving that approach.