A Trio of Unlikely Partners: Kim, Xi and Trump

A Trio of Unlikely Partners: Kim, Xi and Trump


Mr. Xi, analysts said, will scarcely relish his visit to North Korea. He is staying barely two days and avoided scheduling the trip on dates that would have had greater historic resonance, like June 25, the date in 1950 that North Korea invaded the South, or Oct. 19, the date in 1950 when China entered the war on the North’s side.

“There’s not a lot of love here, to say the least,” Mr. Pollack said. “In that sense, it is something of a minimalist visit, though Kim will try to milk it as much as possible, and Xi might try to milk it for his own purposes.”

While Mr. Xi has been far less fulsome than Mr. Trump about his personal relationship with Mr. Kim, the United States and China are largely in sync on North Korea. Both want Mr. Kim to avoid provocations like nuclear tests or missile launches. Both have supported draconian sanctions as a way to pressure him. American officials have said they believe Mr. Xi can play a constructive role with Mr. Kim.

What is less clear is how much good will that will buy Mr. Xi with Mr. Trump on trade. Early in his presidency, Mr. Trump offered to delay some of his most aggressive moves as long as China was helpful in pressuring the North. But after Singapore, where he claimed to have developed his own rapport with Mr. Kim, he abandoned that linkage, imposing a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Mr. Trump’s relationship with Mr. Kim has waxed and waned as well. The North Korean leader recently sent Mr. Trump a letter that the president described as “beautiful.” But it contained no proposals for how to restart the stalled negotiations over its nuclear program.

Mr. Trump’s rally Tuesday in Florida may have offered a glimpse of his current feelings for his two friends. He said nothing about Mr. Kim, with whom, he once said, he had fallen in love. But he did say he had spoken at length with Mr. Xi — “terrific president, a great leader of China.”

“We’ll see what happens,” he added, “but we’re either going to have a good deal and a fair deal or we’re not going to have a deal at all, and that’s O.K., too.”



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