Trump faces tough­est test

US Pres­i­dent says he will size up Kim Jong Un ‘within the first minute'

Whanganui Chronicle - - World -

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s seat-of-thep­ants for­eign pol­icy is fac­ing its tough­est test yet as he at­tempts to­mor­row to per­son­ally bro­ker an end to North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gramme with Kim Jong Un.

The im­pul­sive Amer­i­can pres­i­dent is set to face his match on the global stage as he pre­pares to meet Kim in Sin­ga­pore.

In the his­toric first meet­ing be­tween the lead­ers of the tech­ni­cally-still-war­ring na­tions, Trump is pri­ori­tis­ing in­stinct over plan­ning. Un­like tra­di­tional sum­mits be­tween heads of state, where most of the work is com­pleted in ad­vance of a photo-op, US of­fi­cials say the only thing cer­tain ahead of these talks will be their un­pre­dictabil­ity.

The sum­mit tim­ing, after Trump left a trail of diplo­matic wreck­age as he ex­ited the an­nual Group of Seven sum­mit yes­ter­day, cast fur­ther light on the ex­tent to which he in­creas­ingly keeps his own coun­sel, con­fi­dent in his abil­ity to sin­gle-hand­edly at­tempt to re­draw the global or­der.

The G7 meet­ing ap­peared to have weath­ered ten­sions over Trump’s threats of a tar­iff­fu­elled trade war un­til the mer­cu­rial Amer­i­can pulled out of a joint state­ment while cit­ing “false state­ments” by Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau. It was an un­prece­dented at­tack on the leader of the US neigh­bour and ally. Ear­lier, Trudeau had told re­porters that all seven lead­ers had signed the dec­la­ra­tion.

Trump was on board Air Force One on his way to Sin­ga­pore when he tweeted that the G7 host was “dis­hon­est and weak”.

Trump tweeted: “Based on Justin’s false state­ments at his news con­fer­ence, and the fact that Canada is charg­ing mas­sive Tar­iffs to our US farm­ers, work­ers and com­pa­nies, I have in­structed our US Reps not to en­dorse the Com­mu­nique as we look at Tar­iffs on au­to­mo­biles flood­ing the US Mar­ket!” He fol­lowed up by tweet­ing: “PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild dur­ing our @G7 meet­ings only to give a news con­fer­ence after I left say­ing that, ‘US Tar­iffs were kind of in­sult­ing’ and he ‘will not be pushed around’. Very dis­hon­est & weak. Our Tar­iffs are in re­sponse to his of 270% on dairy!”

“His message from Que­bec to Sin­ga­pore is that he is go­ing to meld the in­dus­trial democ­ra­cies to his will — and bring back Rus­sia,” said Steve Ban­non, Trump’s for­mer cam­paign and White House ad­viser.

Ever since Trump shocked al­lies, White House of­fi­cials, and, by some ac­counts, the North Kore­ans them­selves when he ac­cepted Kim’s March in­vi­ta­tion for a meet­ing, the two lead­ers have lurched to­ward an un­cer­tain en­counter.

“It’s un­known ter­ri­tory in the truest sense, but I re­ally feel con­fi­dent,” Trump told re­porters.

“I feel that Kim Jong Un wants to do some­thing great for his peo­ple and he has that op­por­tu­nity and he won’t have that op­por­tu­nity again.”

Trump’s en­gage­ment with Kim ful­fills the North Korean rul­ing fam­ily’s long-un­re­quited yearn­ing for in­ter­na­tional le­git­i­macy, it­self a sub­stan­tial con­ces­sion that could weaken more than a gen­er­a­tion of US ef­forts to iso­late the coun­try on the global stage.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pulled out of a G7 sum­mit joint state­ment while cit­ing “false state­ments” by Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau. PIC­TURES / AP

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