Tough to overstate significance of these talks

It is damn near impossible to overstate the significance of what the world witnessed a little while ago this evening.

Two men strode toward each other, extended their hands, with one of them grabbing the other man’s arm with his “off hand.”

The men are Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States, and Kim Jong Un, the dictator of North Korea.

What they said to each other in that private meeting — with no staff members present — remains a secret at this moment. We’ll find out likely as the president wings his way back home aboard Air Force One.

But … the meeting, the shaking of hands, the cautious smiles and courtesy between these men is a very big deal in and of themselves.

The United States and North Korea remain in a state of war. The Korean War didn’t “end” when the shooting stopped in 1953; the ceasefire merely ended the killing. There is no peace treaty. There’s no document that declares peace between South and North Korea.

Today’s monumental first step marks the first-ever meeting between the heads of state between the United States and North Korea.

Critics of the U.S.-North Korea summit say it gives legitimacy to a brutal dictator. Those who praise it say it might open the door to that long-awaited peace treaty — and it well might result eventually in a pact that persuades Kim Jong Un to “denuclearize” his arsenal.

His countrymen and women are starving. North Korea remains a desperately poor nation. Yet the dictator has continued to tons of money into a weapons system the country cannot afford.

Have we seen the beginning of a new era? Is there a possibility that the handshakes, the smiles and the apparent good tidings can produce something — anything! — of substance?

Well, a handshake is a start.

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