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The words “historic” and “unprecedented” to describe the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are literally true. But there were good reasons why previous U.S. administrations had refused multiple requests from North Korean leaders to meet with the president. Against the historical and strategic backdrop, the results of the Kim-Trump summit so far can be divided into the good, the bad and the ugly.

Inverting the order, it is distasteful for the leader of the free world to meet, on equal footing, the leader of one of the most horrific human rights abuser regimes, as documented in chilling detail in AIIA Fellow Justice Michael Kirby’s report for the U.N. Human Rights Council. Known colloquially in diplomatic circles as shaking hands with the devil in order to make progress on the bigger picture, there is no shortage of precedent for this transactional calculation.

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