For many years, the United States and China have both had a problem with North Korea’s impact on regional stability, and both have insisted that the solution would only be possible if the other took action. From the US perspective, this meant pushing China to further cut ties with North Korea, and for China, it meant trying to get the US to the table.
Over the weekend, China made their move, suspending coal imports to North Korea, and while it’s being presented as a “message” to North Korea, analysts say it is also a message to Trump, that the ball is now in his court, and he needs to talk with North Korea.
The US has had plenty of opportunities to talk with North Korea, and has mostly refused to do so. North Korean officials are actively trying to get State Department permission to come to the US for talks right now, and even if there’s no chance of them meeting current US officials, even allowing them to the US to meet former officials would be a big move.
It’s unclear if the US is going to make any such concession, however, with officials suggesting it’ll be weeks for the State Department to even decide on the visit. There is said to be considerable opposition to letting North Korean officials visit, since they don’t expect it will lead to an immediate, dramatic shift in North Korean policies to comply with US wishes.