Open Forum

Trade overshadows security with human rights and democratization left on the sidelines in DC gatherings in the spring of 2019. The Hanoi summit left US-North Korean ties in limbo, reducing their salience in discussions as few new details emerged and the next steps remained difficult to fathom. In the Trump-Abe summits (two in the spring with as many as three more possible before the end of September), the dark cloud of trade hangs overhead even as upbeat reports have been issued. The main act awaits between Trump and Xi Jinping, possibly in a meeting at the G20 late in June, even if little news is emerging on what might unfold. What was left for those who are following developments closely was to anticipate the summitry of late June when Trump goes to Osaka and Seoul: With whom would Trump meet? What would be the main themes? Would any progress be made on trade, North Korea, regional security, or US bilateral relations with allies? Expectations remained low, even though Trump’s penchant for declaring success might resurface.

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