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Analysis: Trump shows off the 'art of the sale' at Singapore summit

U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions about the summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un during a press conference at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore.
AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

SINGAPORE - US President Donald Trump touts himself as the man of the "art of the deal." But at the Singapore summit, Trump didn't come to deal. He came to argue he's made a sale."

The sale leaked out through Twitter in the early afternoon hours after US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un signed their agreement and brandished the single page in front of the cameras.

The document was, in its form, a deal. A set of vague bullet points negotiated between the parties. Experts pored over it, kept score of what was in and what was out.

That interested the experts: a commitment by North Korea to full denuclearization but no word on verification coupled with unspecified security guarantees from Washington.

As it turned out, that didn't much interest Trump.

Because the US president -- the man of the "art of the deal"-- didn't come here to make a deal. He came to make a sale.

And after the deal came Trump's press conference. It lasted well over an hour but Trump spent little time or energy focusing on any deal. Instead he tried to focus attention on how he had made his sale.

Trump believes that he has sold Kim Jong-Un on the movie version of himself. Literally, the former real estate and showbiz mogul showed Kim a mock-movie trailer presenting a glitzy North Korea of the future -- which he thought was too good not show the press conference too.

Trump touts himself as a true believer in the goodness of the human soul of Kim Jong-Un.


On this, Trump sounded positively Obaman. To those of us at the round, dark Capella Hotel conference room, it came across even more emphatically, with even more charisma and charm.

Trump believes --confidently, faithfully-- that he has sold Kim Jong-Un on turning North Korea into a twin of South Korea. If that's the sale, who cares about the deal? If Kim is on the cusp of transforming his country, who cares what's in clause three or four?

Trump is playing an entirely different game on the North Korea issue. A much bigger one.

To see if he's right, we will have to look not at the details of what was hashed out by the negotiators. Look at what the North Korean regime does and doesn't do in the weeks and months to come.

Trump said he believes Kim will move quickly on big change. It is that -- and not the innards of any document thrashed out by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- that will tell us if Trump is right.

Owen Alterman is senior international correspondent for i24NEWS.



God bless President Trump, the best of this century. Let the nay sayers continue to figure out and forcast doom. The deal has been done and we are in a new era and a new dispensation. Viva President Trump, viva America. We do not care whose Ox is been gored. The world is now a peaceful place with this deal. King David used only a single stone out of the 5 to destroy Mighty Goliath. This is our modern day King David. May the guardian Angels guide and protect President Trump Shalom.

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