Trump: June 12 sum­mit back on

Pres­i­dent says meet­ing with N. Korea’s Kim is start of a ‘process’

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - FRONT PAGE - David Jack­son

WASH­ING­TON — Af­ter a rare meet­ing with a high-ranking North Korean of­fi­cial, Pres­i­dent Trump said Fri­day he has resched­uled a June 12 sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore with Kim Jong Un as part of a long-term effort to try and end the lat­ter’s nu­clear weapons pro­grams.

While hail­ing the prom­ise of an un­prece­dented sum­mit, Trump also sought to tamp down ex­pec­ta­tions by say­ing that “we’re not go­ing to go in and sign some­thing” at the Sin­ga­pore meet­ing. In­stead, he said, “we’re go­ing to start a process” on an agree­ment to have Kim elim­i­nate the nu­clear weapons that have gen­er­ated global ten­sions for years.

“I think it’s a ‘get­ting to know you’ meet­ing-plus, and that could be a very pos­i­tive thing,” Trump told re­porters at the White House.

Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment capped eight days of un­cer­tainty that started May 24, when Trump said he was can­cel­ing the June 12 meet­ing be­cause of of­fen­sive com­ments made by the North Korean govern­ment.

Kim and South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in re­cently met in the Demil­i­ta­rized Zone be­tween the two coun­tries, while North Korean en­voys scram­bled to the United States to meet with U.S. of­fi­cials.

Trump spoke warmly about the North Kore­ans on Fri­day af­ter re­ceiv­ing a let­ter from Kim con­cern­ing the prospects of a his­toric sum­mit be­tween nu­clear-armed lead­ers.

Kim Yong Chol, a for­mer North Korean spy chief who is now a top aide to

Kim Jong Un, en­tered the White House in the early af­ter­noon to hand-de­liver the let­ter to Trump dur­ing the Oval Of­fice meet­ing with the U.S. pres­i­dent and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo.

Trump did not dis­close the con­tents of Kim’s mes­sage — “oh, would you like to see what was in that let­ter,” he told re­porters — but said he and the en­voy dis­cussed is­sues rang­ing from eco­nomic sanctions to a pos­si­ble peace treaty be­tween North and South Korea.

The pres­i­dent later said he had not opened Kim’s let­ter, say­ing he didn’t want to do so in front of his guests and jok­ing that “I may be in for a big sur­prise, folks.” The White House said later that Trump even­tu­ally read the let­ter.

North Korea wants the United States and al­lies to re­move eco­nomic sanctions that are crip­pling its econ­omy; Trump said “I look for­ward to the day when I can take the sanctions off of North Korea,” but did not com­mit to such a step. He said ad­di­tional sanctions are ready, but he will not ap­ply them un­less “the talks break down.”

Trump’s meet­ing with Kim Yong Chol and other North Korean of­fi­cials lasted around an hour and 20 min­utes. The pres­i­dent shook hands and posed for pic­tures out­side the White House with mem­bers of the North Korean del­e­ga­tion.

“We will see you on June 12,” Trump said.

In ad­di­tion to Kim’s nu­clear weapons, top­ics may in­clude with­drawal of some sanctions as well as re­la­tions over­all be­tween North and South Korea.

“I think it’s a ‘get­ting to know you’ meet­ing-plus, and that could be a very pos­i­tive thing.” Pres­i­dent Trump

End­ing the Korean War?

The Korean War be­tween the split na­tions ended with an armistice in 1953. The two sides are again talk­ing about a for­mal peace treaty, and Trump in­di­cated that could be part of the meet­ing.

“Can you be­lieve that we’re talk­ing about the end­ing of the Korean War?” Trump said at one point.

Trump, who meets next week with Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, said Ja­pan is also in­volved in the bud­ding ne­go­ti­a­tions, and that “South Korea’s very much in­volved.”

Trump also said he may dis­cuss hu­man rights with Kim.

China’s role

Kim has also spo­ken with China Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping dur­ing the up-and­down dis­cus­sions about a Trump meet­ing. Trump sug­gested that Xi is the one who told Kim to take a harder line af­ter the June 12 meet­ing was an­nounced.

On Fri­day, Trump said he hopes China will “help out” in seek­ing a deal with Kim.

The North Korean leader is ex­pected to press for a lift­ing of eco­nomic sanctions, and per­haps new forms of eco­nomic as­sis­tance, in ex­change for an agree­ment on his nu­clear weapons pro­grams.

Lisa Collins, a fel­low with the Korea Chair at the Wash­ing­ton-based Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said there is skep­ti­cism in the for­eign policy com­mu­nity that Kim will dis­man­tle all of his weapons pro­grams.

“It all comes down to what the North Korean leader wants, which is dif­fi­cult to an­swer un­less you have a se­ries of meet­ings,” Collins said.

She added that the North Kore­ans “won’t be giv­ing up any­thing for free.”

LEE JIN-MAN/AP

Kim Jong Un and Pres­i­dent Trump plan to meet in Sin­ga­pore.

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