THE sun smiled down on the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas on April 27th, the day Moon Jae-in, South Korea's president, met Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, for a strikingly warm summit at which they agreed on the "complete denuclearisation" of the peninsula.
Annual military drills between Washington and Seoul have always been a major source of contention between the Koreas, and analysts have wondered whether their continuation would hurt the detente that, since an outreach by Kim in January, has replaced the insults and threats of war. "So we'll see what happens", Trump said when asked if his meeting with Chairman Kim is happening.
With North Korea blasting Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton and his "Libya model" statements, the White House press secretary had this to say. "And if it doesn't, we will continue the maximum pressure campaign that has been ongoing". They deter aggressors while making the outside world listen when North Korea speaks.
Xi Wednesday hosted a meeting with its leader Pak Thae Song, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, the North's ruling party. The upside for him might be the removal of any USA tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea and Japan. "The risks would be astronomical, and if the summit blew up we could be right back on the brink to war again", he said. He and the powerful elite around him could expect serious enrichment during this process and in time might even be prepared to risk easing their draconian control over their people.
At the same time, Trump threatened Kim with the same fate as former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi if the North's leader does not make a deal on his nuclear weapons program. Or are the North Koreans simply taking Trump for a ride. By seeming like a constructive actor, Kim is also preparing for what happens next if talks fail. "It is essentially a manifestation of awfully sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers", the statement from North Korea reads.
Some analysts and United States officials believe the North may have been testing Mr Trump's willingness to soften the USA demand for complete denuclearization.
Odds in favor of going ahead with US-North Korea summit: Bolton
The rosy outlook for the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and his counterparts leading the North Korean and South Korean governments met with a dark day today as North Korea's state-controlled Central News Agency issued a rebuke of a joint military drill between the US and South Korean air forces.
Lawmakers and experts point out that sanctions lose their value unless they're being tightened.
Mr Bolton has repeatedly suggested the Libya model of unilateral disarmament for North Korea, most recently on Sunday. Today, North Korea threatened to cancel a meeting. "It should take place if both parties are acting in good faith, if both parties are able to reach a joint objective as to what they want to do", Risch told VOA's Korean service.
"I can't tell you yet", he added. I want to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. First, it should try to keep expectations low and encourage Seoul to do the same.
In fact, Trump seems unsure which to put more stock in: the progress of his negotiators or the reports that a meeting could fall through.