President Donald Trump will face a difficult, potentially dangerous, decision when he meets with South Korean president Moon Jae-In at the White House today, three U.S. officials familiar with the matter tell TIME.
The U.S. intelligence community has advised the White House that Moon will ask Trump to ease some of the economic sanctions imposed on North Korea for its rogue nuclear and missile programs, the officials say.
If Trump says Yes, that could help restart diplomatic talks that have stalled since his failed Hanoi summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un last February. But even a modest concession on sanctions could solidify Pyongyang’s status as a nuclear weapons power, leaving U.S. allies in northeast Asia vulnerable and potentially launching a regional arms race.
Trump could avoid that outcome by saying No to Moon’s request. But that risks a return to the saber rattling, or worse, that marked the early days of Trump’s tenure, when fears of war with North Korea spiked. Kim recently signaled his readiness to return to confrontation, despite Trump’s public assertions that the two leaders are good friends.