Mike Pompeo just got back from headin’ up North (again).
That’s right folks, the Korea situation is still heating up, as Secretary of State Pompeo apparently made a surprise visit to the Hermit Kingdom again yesterday.
Yesterday Trump dropped his (long-expected) bombshell about how the US is leaving the Iran Deal. No surprise there.
What was surprising is that the President also indicated that Mike Pompeo was going back for further talks with the Kim regime. The Donald himself is soon expected to participate in a round of anti-nuke talks with Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In.
The fact that Pompeo has gone back to talk to Kim again may mean that those talks are getting off the ground sooner than anticipated.
Additionally, Pompeo was able to collect three American prisoners who’re being held there by the regime. Yesterday, Trump wouldn’t give a straight answer about whether the three Americans are going to be released, but he said it was a possibility – and indeed it’s happened!
Two of the three prisoners were American college professors who had been working at the Pyongyang University of Science Technology, which is funded by Western missionary groups.
The third was a Korean-born American citizen sentenced to 10 years of hard labor in 2016, allegedly for espionage. (The Kim regime also accused him of trying to spread Christianity to the North Koreans; he’s most likely just a businessman who ran afoul of the North Koreans’ anti-religious lunacy.) All three are ethnically Korean themselves.
Pompeo has said he hopes Kim will do “the right thing” regarding the American captives. But, well, Kim Jong Un isn’t exactly known for doing the right thing.
In any case, we do know that Pompeo’s return to Pyongyang is a sign that, as Trump said in his announcement, “relationships are building” with the usually skittish North Koreans.
This second trip is certainly laying the groundwork for the upcoming talks between Trump and Kim. Pompeo still needs to set a time and place for the summit, which could be a lot harder to do than it seems.
If Kim comes to Washington, he puts himself in the hands of his most hated foe. The same is true if Trump goes to Pyongyang. (And nobody should put it past the North Koreans to poison a rival leader at a diplomatic summit.)
The leaders might meet in Geneva, or in South Korea, or China, or even within the DMZ between the two Koreas. At this point nothing is nailed down yet.
And that’s why Mike Pompeo has gone back to North Korea. Because the US cannot afford to waste this precious opportunity to bring Kim Jong Un to the table.
As long as we don’t have a repeat of the idiotic Obama-era Iran capitulations, there’s a real chance at stake for the President to improve the security of the world. Although President Trump was wise to withdraw from the Iran Deal, the damage is still done. Our hard-won system of sanctions against Iran has already been irreparably damaged.
We must not make the same naive mistake when dealing with the North Koreans. We must refuse to remove sanctions until they make real, substantial cuts to their nuclear program. If we do it right and stick to our guns, then there’s a real chance these upcoming Trump-Kim talks could do some good.