Kim gets what he wanted – but Trump needs more
Donald Trump has spent a lifetime in front of the cameras and since his election met countless world leaders. He looked calm and relaxed as he met Kim Jong Un, but perhaps not quite as much as the other man.
That is perhaps surprising. Until March the North Korean had not left his country as leader and had met only two other world leaders – those of China and South Korea.
The handshake between the two was flawless for both, but Donald Trump went for an arm pat too and a gesture to cameras. He seemed almost to be trying a little too hard. Kim just smiled but it was a smile that beamed confidence.
And he has good reason. He is exactly where he wants to be. Exactly where his father and grandfather wanted to be, sitting opposite a sitting American president.
The meeting puts him on the world stage as a global player on a level with the president of a superpower.
Not bad for the leader of a small country of 25 million and a GDP per capita the same as Gambia.
Whatever happens next, he can bank some major gains. Other world leaders are lining up to follow in President Trump's shoes. He has been feted here as a global player, no longer the international pariah.
When he went walkabout on a late night stroll in Singapore there were whoops and cheers. This is the brutal dictator of Pyongyang, who sends assassins to kill his half-brother with VX nerve agent and has 100,000 political prisoners locked up and tortured or worse.
President Trump can also claim some gains. He has brought home three American hostages, he has persuaded regional powers to impose more swingeing sanctions on North Korea than his predecessors. And now he has an eye-catching peace summit to his name.
But he needs more than Kim from the summit itself. Kim can leave here with only a PR triumph under his belt. Trump needs something concrete. He needs a more detailed commitment to denuclearisation than North Korea has so far been prepared to give, with clear steps planned in some kind of timetable.
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Without it his supporters back home will still claim a victory and say a historic peace process has begun, but Kim Jong Un will be able to play for time whittling away at the international coalition Trump has forged against him.
And gradually over time the failure to disarm North Korea will becoming more and more apparent, gnawing away at Trump's record. Long term he cannot afford to be played for a sucker.