Trump trusts his gut over note cards, For high-stakes summit with Kim
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will deploy a mix of charm and pressure to coax North Korean leader Kim Jong Un into a deal to give up nuclear weapons, trusting his gut instinct over briefing books in his ability to strike an accord, aides and former administration officials said.
Kim, who at 34 is nearly half Trump’s age, will get a concentrated blast of what friends and foes of Trump have experienced since he became president: a volatile, unpredictable leader who can be at turns friendly or tough, or both at the same time.
The June 12 summit in Singapore will be the first face-to-face meeting between Trump, the former reality TV star who likes to keep people guessing up to a cliffhanger finish, and Kim, the heir to a reclusive dynasty with a history of reneging on promises to curb its nuclear ambitions.
While Trump has received a steady diet of briefings, verbal and written, about what to expect when he meets Kim, he trusts his intuition more than anything else, aides and former officials said.
His briefings have covered the gamut from Kim’s family history, the history of broken agreements with Pyongyang and the status of the North’s nuclear and missile programs, one source familiar with the matter said.
Aides expect Trump to try to use a personal touch to try build trust with Kim. The two leaders have done much to improve their relations after hurling insults and threats at each other such as who has the bigger nuclear button.
In his decades as a businessman before entering the White House 18 months ago, Trump did many deals and can bring different skills and techniques to negotiations, one source close to the president said.
“But it’s very ‘gut,’ which people are not used to in the diplomatic world because people are used to reading note cards,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Critics contend that Trump’s seat-of-the-pants approach may be too risky in dealing with North Korea, which alarmed Washington with its rapid advances on a long-range missile possibly capable of hitting the United States.