Summit on my mind: US-NK talks back on
AFTER a week of backflipping and uncertainty, US President Donald Trump has confirmed that his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is back on for June 12.
Speaking after an Oval Office meeting with topranking North Korean official Kim Yong-chol, Mr Trump said it would be a mistake not to proceed with the on-again, off-again nuclear summit in Singapore.
He told reporters he predicted talks with North Korea would “be a process” but would ultimately be “successful”, indicating that the rogue regime wants to denuclearise.
Mr Trump praised his meeting with the most senior North Korean to visit the White House in 18 years, say- ing it had lasted longer than expected and “went very well”, without immediately disclosing its contents. He said Kim Yong-chol was “very nice” and “very interesting”.
However, he added that the June 12 summit would just be “a beginning”.
“The process will begin on June 12 in Singapore,” he said.
For the time being, Mr Trump said he would not impose additional sanctions on the regime, saying “we had hundreds of new sanctions ready to go”. He promised he would not impose them “until the talks break down”.
Earlier, Kim Yong-chol had been greeted by White House chief of staff John Kelly, who brought him inside the White House to meet the president.
Kim Yong-chol was expected to hand deliver a letter from Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, to Mr Trump.
Kim Yong-chol, who was previously black-listed by the US for his role in his country’s military establishment, is the most senior North Korean visitor to the US since Vice Marshal Jo Myong-rok visited Washington in 2000 to meet President Bill Clinton.
Kim Yong-chol was driven from New York to Washington a day after talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pom- peo regarding preparations for the June 12 encounter.
Both sides have committed themselves to the “denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula but it is not clear if Mr Trump’s mission to secure Pyongyang’s disarmament can be aligned with Kim Jong-un’s quest to win international respect and protection.
After Thursday’s talks, Mr Pompeo expressed confidence that the process was moving in the right direction but warned that the North’s young leader must be bold enough to realise he would be safer without nuclear weapons.
On the same day in Pyongyang, the North Korean leader told Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that his commitment to denuclearisation remained “unchanged and consistent and fixed” but experts warn that he will prob- ably seek deep concessions from Washington.
In particular, he wants a formal end to the Korean conflict and is likely to seek international recognition and guarantees against any strike by the US forces stationed across the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) in South Korea.
The delivery of the letter from Kin Jong-un comes only a week after Mr Trump threatened to consign the entire process to history, abruptly cancelling the summit in a sharply worded letter, only to revive preparations a day later.
Since that short- lived crisis, diplomats from both countries have conducted an intense flurry of talks, culminating this week when Mr Pompeo sat down in New York with Kim Jong- un’s envoy.
President Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaks to the media on the South Lawn outside the Oval Office in Washington.
Trump and Kim Yong-chol.