Trump: June 12 summit back on
President says meeting with N. Korea’s Kim is start of a ‘process’
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.
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.”
Kim Jong Un and President Trump plan to meet in Singapore.