Philippine Daily Inquirer

Trump-Kim summit on June 12 confirmed

US president softens stance, hints at longer path for North Korea to denucleari­ze


WASHINGTON— US President Donald Trump said on Friday he would meet North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as scheduled on June 12 in a historic summit.

WASHINGTON— US President Donald Trump said Friday he will meet North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as originally scheduled on June 12 for a historic summit after extraordin­ary Oval Office talks with a top envoy from Pyongyang.

After more than an hour of discussion with Kim Yong Chol, Trump told reporters that denucleari­zation and a formal end to the decades-old Korean war would be on the table in Singapore.

As expected, Kim Yong-chol handed Trump a letter from Kim that may clear up some of the questions. The US leader said the missive was “very nice” but then admitted he had not yet read it. An aide later confirmed he did after the talks.

But the US president warned that he did not expect to immediatel­y sign a deal to bring a halt to the reclusive regime’s nuclear program.

Ending the war

“I never said it goes in one meeting. I think it’s going to be a process, but the relationsh­ips are building and that’s very positive,” he said, after waving farewell to the North Korean leader’s right-hand man.

The Korean War has been largely frozen since an armistice ended hostilitie­s, but not the underlying conflict, in 1953.

“We talked about ending the war,” Trump said.

“Historical­ly it’s very important, but we’ll see. We did discuss that, the ending of the Korean War. Can you believe we’re talking about the ending of the Korean War?”

Washington is determined that Kim should agree to what US officials call the “complete, verifiable and irreversib­le” end of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and interconti­nental missile programs.

Experts skeptical

Kim says he is committed to “denucleari­zation” in some form, but he is expected to demand security guarantees in return.

Most expert observers are skeptical that even an unpreceden­ted summit between the two leaders can lead to a rapid breakthrou­gh, and Trump admitted it would be a long and difficult process.

“We’re not going to go in and sign something on June 12. We never were. I told him today, ‘Take your time,’” he said, adding neverthele­ss that he expects “a really positive result in the end.”

Kim Yong-chol, the most senior North Korean to visit the United States in 18 years, spent almost 90 minutes in the Oval Office.

Afterwards, Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walked the North’s small delegation to their cars, smiling and shaking hands in front of the media before the motorcade pulled away.

Security guarantees

Meanwhile, discussion­s between US and North Korean officials continue in Singapore and in the Demilitari­zed Zone between North and South Korea.

On Thursday, Kim Jong-un told Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that his commitment to denucleari­zation remains “unchanged and consistent and fixed,” but experts warn he will seek concession­s from Washington.

In addition to an end to the war, he is likely to want internatio­nal recognitio­n as well as guarantees against any strike by the US forces stationed in South Korea.

‘Nukes for defense’

Pyongyang has insisted that it needs nuclear weapons to defend against a US invasion, and has offered to negotiate over them in exchange for such guarantees in the past.

For the North, denucleari­zation has long been code for the withdrawal of US troops from the peninsula and the end of its nuclear umbrella over the South something unthinkabl­e in Washington.

But it remains to be seen if either side has changed its position in the whirlwind diplomacy of the last few weeks.

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 ?? —AP ?? 90-MINUTE TALKS US President Donald Trump (right) talks with Kim Yong-chol, the North Korean leader's right-hand man, in Washington, Friday.
—AP 90-MINUTE TALKS US President Donald Trump (right) talks with Kim Yong-chol, the North Korean leader's right-hand man, in Washington, Friday.

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