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With the Trump's North Korea summit over, Pompeo lays the ground work for a deal


WASHINGTON (Circa) -- Hands have been shaken, photos have been taken, and President Trump and Kim Jong Un are back in their respective homes, but a tangible deal still needs to be worked out.

That's where the diplomats come in, and chief among them, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has already made his rounds in meetings with his Chinese, South Korean, and Japanese counterparts, all major stakeholders in any deal struck with North Korea.

Trump has touted the memorandum he signed with Kim as a milestone towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, an achievement that has eluded several administrations. But policy experts note the memo is vague and lacks detail. Here's a quick breakdown:

First, the U.S. and North Korea have committed to establishing better relations in the pursuit of "peace and prosperity." Which is something not terribly uncommon with these kinds of agreements.

Second, the two sides agreed to build a "lasting and stable peace regime" on the peninsula. This one is pretty interesting because it doesn't really offer any details on what that regime looks like. Does this mean reunification of North and South Korea? Does it mean two stable governments living in peace? It's simply not clear.

Pompeo offers North Korea security assurances

Next was a reaffirmation of the Panmunjon Declaration of 2018. This was North Korea's recent commitment toward denuclearization of the peninsula. This one is important, because it is the focal point of any future agreement. It may seem simple enough, but North Korea doesn't exactly share the same definition of denuclearization of the peninsula as the U.S. and the South.

"They also view denuclearization as potentially getting rid of all the 28,000 or so American troops that are on South Korea," said James McKeon, a policy analyst with the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. "They likely view this as well as the United States needs to commit to not extend their so-called nuclear umbrella over South Korea."

Last up was the recovery of remains since the Korean War. This was a new point in discussions with the regime , and the most tangible portion of the memorandum.

While the president is ultimately in charge of the nation's foreign affairs, the State Department and other government officials which will hammer out the framework for any international agreement. Every tedious detail, from where negotiations will take place to what they will entail has to be carefully outlined. The first step will be getting some kind of tangible assurance from North Korea as a sign of good faith.

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"i think what the U.S. has to do next is get some demonstrable steps," said Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Robert Manning, a former State Department counselor. "For example, asking the North Koreans to give us four or five warheads to ship out of the country, or something like that. Something relatively rapid and demonstrable to show that they are serious about denuclearization."

Defining denuclearization will be particularly important, because its effects will have major implications on the security situation on the Korean peninsula. It is unlikely the U.S. would agree to a removal of all of its troops in South Korea, and it is equally unlikely that Kim will give up his nuclear arsenal without some guarantee that his regime's safety is ensured. It would appear Kim has already gained something out of the summit, considering President Trump promised to cancel military exercises with South Korea.

Manning noted Trump's unpredictability could make it more difficult on Pompeo and the State Department. The promise to end exercises, for example, was not shared with allies or the military beforehand.

Hammering out these kinds of details can often take a long time. President Ronald Reagan first proposed a nuclear arms agreement with Russia in the early 1980s, but the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (START 1) would be signed nearly a decade later by his successor, President George H.W. Bush, in 1991. U.S. arms negotiations with Russia would continue well past the Cold War's end.

The U.S. and North Korea have been at odds for decades, so any agreement of significance could conceivably take some time, especially with North Korea's poor track record when it comes to diplomacy.

Circa's Ryan Eskalis and Gretchen Hopkirk contributed to this article.

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