The Berlin meeting, which will occur in advance of the anticipated resumption of direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea later this month, represents an important preliminary step forward in rebuilding consensus on denuclearization. It follows the collapse of a round of talks in Hanoi during the February 2019 summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Premier Kim Jong Un.
The Hanoi talks faltered over North Korean objections to the U.S.'s hardline position regarding the pace of denuclearization, and the U.S.'s refusal to consider easing sanctions linked to North Korea's nuclear program prior to the complete, verified elimination of the North's nuclear weapons program. North Korea accused the U.S. of negotiating in bad faith and put President Trump on notice that it would no longer work with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or national security adviser John Bolton. Moreover, it gave the U.S. until the end of the year to resolve the composition of its negotiating team and the substance of its negotiating position.