So Far, So Good For Trump's North Korea Diplomacy

North Korea and U.S. relations have been slowly but steadily improving, due in part to the Singapore summit.
Posted at 4:07 PM, Aug 01, 2018

North Korea says it's holding up part of its end of the bargain President Donald Trump struck with Kim Jong-un in Singapore last month. The country is returning remains believed to be from 55 U.S. service members killed during the Korean War.

It'll take some work to authenticate the remains; similar claims by North Korea haven't completely panned out in the past. But the gesture is still the latest positive sign of thawing relations between North Korea and the U.S.

Immediately after the Singapore summit, Trump told reporters Kim had agreed to disassemble a stand used to test missile engines. North Korea has apparently started to work on tearing down that test stand, according to monitoring group 38 North.

Kim also took several positive moves ahead of the summit, from decommissioning a nuclear test facility to freeing three American citizens held in North Korea.

These actions haven't brought North Korea any closer to denuclearizing: U.S. intelligence agencies say the country is actually ramping up nuclear fuel production. But they do indicate North Korea's willing to come to the table.

For its part, the U.S. has suspended joint military exercises with South Korea after the Singapore summit. That's a significant gesture to North Korea, which has called the exercises warlike and provocative.

Trump's also dropped his "fire and fury" rhetoric about North Korea since the summit, opting for a much friendlier tone toward Kim. And the U.S. has kept up an optimistic view in public, even after a recent round of talks hit a rough patch.

But despite all the positive vibes, there's still a lot of hard work ahead in negotiations. The U.S. is aiming to get a full declaration of North Korea's nuclear capabilities, while North Korea is angling for some sort of declaration of peace from the U.S.