Most people would agree that domestic politics affect diplomatic negotiations, and last month’s Hanoi summit was interesting because it provided some visible clues as to the relationship between what goes on at home and foreign policy.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said that the congressional hearing of Michael Cohen — which took place during the summit — might have contributed his decision to walk away.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, too, seems to have been driven by domestic politics — albeit from the different direction. He sent two kinds of messages as the summit ended, a bitter one for the world, and a rosy one for his people.
ABRUPT COLLAPSE, OR AGREED DELAY?
Most of the U.S. media described the result of the summit as an “abrupt collapse” and there were some grounds for this headline. However, the reactions from both leaders were very different from the “collapse” narrative.
President Trump said that the summit was productive and ended in friendly manner, even though no deal was reached with the North, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he hopes that both sides can resume negotiations within a few weeks.
Kim Jong Un had a similar message: North Korean media stressed the summit was successful, though high-level DPRK diplomats publicly contested the U.S.’s claims that the North had demanded the total lifting of economic sanctions.