National/World

President Trump's relationship with Kim Jong Un

The Trump Administration is scouting locations for a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. On Wednesday, Trump talked about what he called a “great letter” from Kim.

The two men seem to have a unique relationship. It may just be the oddest relationship in international relations. The American president repeatedly flattered by and flattering North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un.

"We're doing very well with North Korea. And that's based on relationships also,” says President Donald Trump.

Trump’s positive mention of his relationship with Kim Jong Un came only about 48 hours after the president showed off the latest personal letter he got from the North Korean dictator.

"They've never written letters like this before. This letter was a great letter,” says President Trump.

Sources familiar with the contents of Kim’s letter tell CNN it was “predictably effusive.”

The view of some in the administration is that Kim sends letters to Trump to appeal to his ego, and to keep Trump enthusiastic about their personal bond, especially at times when Kim feels negotiations over his nuclear weapons have his a plateau.

Analysts agree, Kim’s whispering in Trump’s ear.

"I think what he's saying to Trump is, 'You sir are better than all of your predecessors, wiser, smarter, more clever, the better deal-maker. You can do what none of your predecessors were able to do,” says Frank Jannuzi, with The Mansfield Foundation.

Experts believe Kim Jong Un has compiled a personal dossier on how to work Trump, and has mastered the dark art of flattering the president, to try and get what he wants.

Skills, analysts say, that were on full display during the two leasers’ meeting in Singapore last summer.

In another letter sent to the White House last July, just weeks after their summit, Kim referred to Trump as “your excellency,” four times in just four paragraphs.

Experts tells CNN, Kim may be using a “carrot and stick” approach with Trump.

Mixed with personal flattery of the president over the past few months, have been threats to the U.S. from Kim’s regime. Including in December, when North Korea said it wouldn’t relinquish its nuclear weapons unless the U.S. eliminates its own “nuclear threat.”

Followed by a New Year’s message, warning that if the Trump team keeps up sanctions, “Then we have no choice but to defend our country's sovereignty and supreme interest, and find a new way to settle peace on our peninsula,” says Kim Jong Un.

Why this double-game from North Korea?

"I think Kim Jong Un needs to see some tangible benefits himself, in the same way that President Trump would like to see some tangible benefits toward denuclearization. Kim Jong Un needs sanctions relief,” explains Jannuzi.

Some analysts believe Kim is simply stalling, buying time to further develop his weapons program.

"If Kim Jong Un were serious about denuclearizing, he could have taken some steps since the June summit. He could have dismantled missiles, dismantled warheads, and he's not doing that. I think what we see now is that the North Koreans are really playing the U.S.,” says Matthew Kroenig, with The Atlantic Council.

The key question: What does this personal dynamic between the two men lead to?

"It's either going to be an engagement, or a breakup. So we're either going to make progress together, or we're not. And if we're not, and there's a breakup, then I think Kim turns to another suitor,” says Jannuzi.

Experts say that would leave President Trump and his team without many options for how to deal with Kim's threat. One option could be simply to keep up the sanctions pressure. The other would be that unpalatable option of considering possible military action.


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