Harris’s career has always been about US military readiness. Last year, in reference to North Korea, he said US forces “must be prepared to fight tonight.” But this month, at his confirmation hearings, he said he was in favor of Trump’s decision to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea—the most dramatic development to come out of the June 12 summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as the two countries talk about how to defuse North Korea’s nuclear program. Pyongyang had long complained about the exercises, which Trump described as “provocative” in a press conference after the summit. A week later, the US and South Korea announced that upcoming war games scheduled for August were off.

“I believe we should give exercises, major exercises, a pause to see if Kim Jong Un is in fact serious about his part of the negotiations,” Harris said during his confirmation hearing this month. “I’ve spoken in the past about the need to bring Kim Jong Un to his senses and not to his knees.”

Secretary of state Pompeo is set to return to North Korea next week, to resume denuclearization negotiations with Pyongyang.

It’s unclear where the talks will lead, but the fact they’re taking place is a huge relief compared with last year, which saw tensions between the US and North Korea sharply rise in the wake of frequent missile tests—and a major nuclear one—by Pyongyang. At one point the US administration was apparently considering a “bloody nose” strike on North Korea, leading to a parting of ways with Victor Cha, who had been under consideration (paywall) for the South Korea ambassador post. Relations improved this year, spearheaded by South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s Winter Olympics diplomacy.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.