Tillerson said that now it's "a question of agreeing on a timing of that first meeting between the two of them and a location, and that will take some weeks before we get all that worked out". In the meantime, H.R. McMaster, James Mattis and Rex Tillerson, the national security adviser and the secretaries of defense and state, respectively, will be stressing that there can be no discussion of any troop withdrawals unless the North disarms its nukes, and does so in a way that can be exhaustively verified by worldwide inspectors. This language is virtually identical to a phrase ("the denuclearization of the whole Korean Peninsula") that veterans of negotiations with the North Koreans have heard many times over the years. "We just need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it", he said yesterday just a few hours before the news broke.
There are some objections that could be raised to this meeting.
President Trump, as he contemplates the possibility of this summit, is running the risk of falling into the trap that President Clinton avoided in 2000. For the U.S.it refers to North Korea giving up its nukes; for North Korea it also means removing the threat of American forces in South Korea and the nuclear deterrent with which the US protects its allies in the region. "The summit request is part of North Korea's effort to say, 'We are major players and you have to deal with us'".
Officials who served in Obama's administration said there was a reason he never met with his North Korean counterpart.
All of which might be true, just as it might be true now.
If the summit fails, the cost could be higher than in the past, observers noted, with North Korea firmly in possession of a nuclear arsenal and Trump having said military strikes may be needed to remove those weapons. It's not hard to imagine his making concessions that would leave South Korea and Japan vulnerable.
"Kim Jong Un's desire to talk shows sanctions the administration has implemented are starting to work". Kim's government even says this publicly.
There isn't necessarily anything delusional about believing that.
Ending the nuclear weapons programme would be a key discussion point, Mr Peters said. "We have no ambassador in Seoul-not even a nominee-and no senior State Department official charged with overseeing the North Korean nuclear challenge". These are people who are not rationale.
It was in at least vague awareness of the lopsided cost-benefit analysis, last October, Trump - who back then had taken to mocking Kim as "Little Rocket Man" and threatening nuclear destruction - ridiculed the prospect of negotiating with North Korea. We know of Trump's affection for dictators. "It extends the prestige of meeting the head of state of the world's strongest power and leading democracy".
As NPR's Elise Hu reported Thursday, "Any meeting between these two leaders would be historic".