If the nuclear talks between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un do actually happen, it will mark the culmination of a long and unusual path.
Just last year, Kim and Trump were exchanging insults and threats. Now they’re on the verge of a historic summit – apparently.
“One has to treat this like a soap opera,” Vipin Narang, a professor at MIT who studies nuclear proliferation, told CNBC. “Every day brings a new, mostly predictable twist, but just stay tuned for the finale and to see if the season will be renewed for next year.”
Since March 8, when Trump first agreed to meet with Kim, the president has canceled the summit, which was set for June 12 in Singapore. Likewise, North Korea has threatened to exit negotiations, and its negotiators failed to show up to attend a planning meeting. Yet, since Trump called it off, the administration has all but confirmed that the meeting will go on.
Planning continues. According to the White House, teams are working in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea and in Singapore. On Wednesday, a leading North Korean official, Kim Yong Chol, arrived in New York ahead of planned discussions with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“I think that anybody who has negotiated with North Korea in the past knows that these changes, threats, not showing up — that’s not really new in North Korean behavior,” said Lisa Collins, a fellow with the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “What’s different here is the personalities involved, which is Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump.”
Here is a timeline of how things have developed in the U.S. relationship with North Korea since Trump took office.