Washington has said it will restart talks with Pyongyang. Kim Jong-un knows how to make Donald Trump feel good; that doesn’t mean he plans to denuclearise

North Koreans are used to extracting the most from very little. It is how the country’s people have survived; and how the rulers who impoverished them have always handled international pressure. Even so, Kim Jong-un must be surprised by his success in eking out minimal material. First came the Singapore summit, where he gave nothing and gained much. Relations with the Trump administration soon stumbled, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has said that the North is continuing to develop its weapons programme; yet on Wednesday the US announced that it was ready to immediately restart bilateral talks. Discussions on a second Trump-Kim meeting are under way.

To what effect? To date the two sides appear to have been talking past, not to, each other. The differences were evident in the US decision to halt meetings in July, after Mr Kim snubbed the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, reportedly believing that Donald Trump was reneging on a promise of a peace declaration.

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