1. How have previous US presidents dealt with North Korea?
President Clinton was the last president before Trump to come close to meeting the leader of North Korea. In October 2000, Clinton dispatched his secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, to meet then-leader Kim Jong-Il in an attempt to suspend North Korean missile tests. But the lack of progress on an agreement as well as the contentious results of the 2000 presidential election meant that Clinton decided not to accept an invitation to visit Pyongyang in the end.
President Bush described North Korea as a member of the ‘Axis of Evil’ in his 2002 State of the Union speech, which dramatically frustrated relations. The relationship was worsened further by North Korea’s admission that it had been conducting a secret nuclear weapons development programme for several years. Bush’s administration later engaged with North Korea as part of the ‘Six-Party’ talks — which also included China, Russia, Japan and South Korea — although little progress was made.
President Obama chose not to engage with North Korea, stating that ‘we’re not going to reward provocative behaviour’. Former presidents Clinton and Carter also visited North Korea during Obama’s tenure to persuade the regime to release imprisoned Americans but Trump will be the first sitting American president to meet with the leadership of the DPRK.