Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's last scheduled trip to North Korea was canceled by Trump at the last minute because, in the words of the White House, North Korea had not demonstrated any progress toward disarming.
There have been no substantive changes since then, but Pompeo is now scheduled to make another trip.
This time, Pompeo will also lay the groundwork for a second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump. The two world leaders first met in June in Singapore, when they both signed a vague agreement pledging to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The State Department announced Pompeo's planned trip after the American diplomat met with North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, on the sidelines of this week's United Nations General Assembly session.
If nothing substantive has changed, what has changed?
Kim Jong-un signed a joint statement with the president of South Korea that says the North will disable one of their nuclear facilities if the United States takes "corresponding measures," but more importantly you may recall that Kim wrote a letter to Trump that appealed directly to his ego and vanity.
The letter from Kim to Trump said North Korea would like to disarm while Trump is in office, which is so hilariously transparent I can't even say it with a straight face.
Trump began laying the groundwork for a second summit after the letter from Kim Jong-un was received, not after Kim signed a statement with South Korea.
I'm obviously not an intelligence analyst, but I believe Kim Jong-un smiled for the cameras in South Korea and flattered Trump in a Dear John letter because this is his strategy for keeping his nuclear weapons. Each time it appears as though the North is falling back on their verbal commitments, Kim will pose for photos and stroke Trump's ego to buy more time.
Pompeo recently said he expects negotiations with North Korea to be complete by the year 2021, which means they will never be complete.