National Post (Latest Edition)
The stalled Korea summit is back on, says Trump.
WASHINGTON • Ending weeks of uncertainty, U.S. President Donald Trump announced Friday that his historic summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is back on for June 12 in Singapore.
Trump made the announcement, just a week after he cancelled the summit, after an hour-long meeting with a top North Korean official who delivered a letter from the North Korean leader.
“We’re going to deal,” Trump told reporters moments after the meeting ended.
He also said it was likely that more than one meeting would be necessary. He concluded, “I think you’re going to have a very positive result in the end. We will see what we will see.”
Trump told reporters he hadn’t read the letter yet and added with a smile, “I may be in for a big surprise, folks.”
Plans for the high-stakes sit-down have been have been cast in doubt ever since Trump withdrew from the meeting last week, only to announce a day later that it could still get back on track. White House officials cast the roller-coaster public statements as reflective of the hard-nosed negotiation by the two nations.
Three teams of officials in the U.S., Singapore, and the Korean demilitarized zone have been meeting this week on preparations for the summit.
Trump’s announcement comes after top North Korean official Kim Yong Chol visited the White House Friday to deliver the letter. Trump had withdrawn from the summit on May 24 with a strongly worded letter of his own, citing “tremendous anger and open hostility” by Pyongyang but also urged Kim to call him. By the next day, he was signalling the event could be back on after a conciliatory response from North Korea.
Kim Yong Chol was greeted at the White House by chief of staff John Kelly and then whisked into the Oval Office. He is the most senior North Korean to visit the White House in 18 years, a highly symbolic sign of easing tensions after fears of war escalated amid North Korean nuclear weapons and missile tests last year.
Questions remain about what a deal on the North’s nuclear weapons would look like though Trump said Friday he believed that Kim would agree to denuclearization.
Despite Kim’s apparent eagerness for a summit with Trump, there are lingering doubts about whether he will fully relinquish his nuclear weapons, which he may see as his only guarantee of survival.
U.S. defence and intelligence officials have repeatedly assessed the North to be on the threshold of having the capability to strike anywhere in the continental U.S. with a nuclear-tipped missile — a capacity that Trump and other U.S. officials have said they would not tolerate.