SEOUL, South Korea — After a year of threats and diatribes, U.S. President Donald Trump and third-generation North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have agreed to meet face-to-face for talks about the North's nuclear program.
It remains to be seen whether a summit, if it takes place, could lead to any meaningful breakthrough after an unusually provocative year. North Korea tested its most powerful nuclear weapon to date and test-launched three intercontinental ballistic missiles theoretically capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
Will there be a breakthrough? Failure? Or merely the start of another long and difficult process meant to remove the North's nuclear capabilities?
Here's a look at what may lie ahead and the challenges that remain:
Analysts say Trump's decision to accept Kim's invitation for a summit and to do it by May could be linked in part to a desire to claim a significant achievement in his most difficult foreign policy challenge before the U.S. midterm elections in November.
Kim, on the other hand, seems desperate to save a sanctions-battered North Korean economy.
Both leaders have interests in striking a big deal, said Cheong Seong-Chang, a senior analyst at South Korea's Sejong Institute. Should it happen, the May summit between Trump and Kim will come shortly after a planned meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April.
It's likely that North Korea will also push for summits with China, Russia and Japan later in the year to further break out of its isolation, Cheong said.
Trump will likely try to achieve something dramatic in his meeting with Kim, said Hong Min, an analyst at Seoul's Korea Institute for National Unification, including a possible exchange of verbal commitments on the denuclearization of North Korea and a peace treaty between the two countries.
WHERE TO MEET?
The United States and North Korea will likely be talking quite a bit in coming months and maybe even exchanging high-level delegations to set up the logistics of the summit.
One of the biggest questions is where it will take place.
The United States would prefer Washington, while North Korea will want Trump to come to Pyongyang, its capital.
Unless the countries agree to a third-country location, which would likely be South Korea, experts see it as more likely that Trump will fly to Pyongyang.
While no incumbent U.S. president has ever set foot in North Korea, Trump might be willing to become the first because it would fit the strong-willed, in-your-face type of leadership he tries to project, Hong said.
It's hard to imagine Kim going to Washington because he is much less diplomatically experienced; the planned meeting with Moon in April will be his first with any state leader since he took power in 2011.
They could also meet in the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone between the rival Koreas or, Hong said, the southern South Korean resort island of Jeju.
WHAT WILL NORTH KOREA WANT?
A big question will be whether Trump can accept a freeze of North Korea's nuclear weapons program rather than its elimination, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University.
Kim will likely want to keep some nukes as a deterrent, but that might be hard for Trump to tolerate when he spent so much time harshly criticizing his predecessor, Barack Obama, for allegedly standing by and watching as North Korea became a nuclear threat.