When President Donald Trump sits across from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week, he will be flanked by a delegation of officials not always in agreement on the best strategy to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons.
On the other side of the table, the delegation from Pyongyang is weathering its own type of flux: the onetime lead negotiator finds himself replaced as Kim Jong Un shakes up his team.
The personnel dynamics on both sides add a layer of intrigue to the high-stakes diplomacy underway this week in the Vietnamese capital. And while US officials and North Korea experts say the ultimate outcome of the talks will depend on the two leaders themselves, their teams’ make-up will inform the underpinnings of any agreements.
On the US side, Trump is relying on Stephen Biegun, the former Ford Motor Company executive he named special envoy for the North Korea talks, to spearhead negotiations. That’s meant multiple trips to Pyongyang, in addition to talks in Washington, Sweden and, this week, in Hanoi.