If you believe the opinions of most experts over the President success with North Korea negotiations was always going to be difficult to define, let alone achieve. At this point the President setting a different tack in terms of patience is a good thing actually.
The biggest problem is the North already achieved great gains with face-to-face negotiations with the President. This gives the North’s leadership a legitimacy it previously lacked. If the US President meets with you, you are not outcast as a pariah state. So the question becomes what more does the North want to achieve? And what does the US want to achieve?
I think we should accept the North will not give up their weapons at this point. They really have been given no reason to, and we are not likely to get much help from regional partners right now, like China. I think we can interpret no further testing of missiles or nuclear tests as a victory of sorts, but it should be weighed against what we give up.
We should likely be backing away from more meetings. The rewards there are completely asymmetric in favor of the North. The President should understand at this point that in these meetings there is no actual negotiation that he can be a party to. Make future meetings contingent on ever increasing time without tests and maybe add increased inspections or something else that can build trust and verification.
I don’t think the President is trying to engage internationally to distract from any domestic situation. I think he is trying to follow up on an errant message from early in his presidency that success would be easy with the North.
The best advice he can be given is likely similar to one he practiced in his business career: be ready to walk. If the deal cannot be reached to your satisfaction indicate you are ready to walk away until such time as it is a more acceptable outcome. This assumes you defined the proper outcomes at the outset and have a cohesive negotiation strategy, and a rational opponent in the negotiations.
The Washington Post article link that for me thinking about this is: