He arrived at the White House in a black Chevrolet Suburban and was met by John F. Kelly, the president’s chief of staff, who ushered him to the Oval Office. Mr. Kim was accompanied by four other officials, but he brought only a translator with him into the Oval Office, where he presented his leader’s letter to Mr. Trump in an oversize envelope and the two posed for pictures.
After the meeting, Mr. Trump escorted him to the South Lawn, where the North Koreans posed for more pictures with the president and Mr. Pompeo. Mr. Trump chatted amiably with Mr. Kim, put his hand on the North Korean’s arm in a friendly way, shook hands and then waved as the visitors’ vehicle pulled away.
“It was a big day for the North Koreans and their international standing, and the contrast with the treatment of our allies and neighbors today was palpable,” said Christopher R. Hill, the lead negotiator for President George W. Bush’s effort to reach a deal with North Korea. “My impression is that the North Koreans would not budge on deeper denuclearization and stuck to generalities without time lines.”
Sung-Yoon Lee, a scholar at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said Mr. Trump stuffed a variety of “unnecessary concessions” into a “goody bag for Kim Jong-un.” Among them were easing up on “maximum pressure,” agreeing to a longer time frame, validating Mr. Kim as a leader by promising more summit meetings, and signaling that China, Japan and South Korea should ready economic aid.
“A total victory for North Korea today, without having made any meaningful concessions or signs to change,” Mr. Lee said.
Even some Republicans offered friendly advice to Mr. Trump, warning to keep his guard up. “You have to not want the deal too much,” Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, said in a speech in his home state, Kentucky. “If you fall in love with the deal, and it’s too important for you to get it, and the details become less significant, you could get snookered.”