Trump hopes to meet Kim next year
US President Donald Trump said Wednesday he hoped to meet again early next year with North Korean leader Kim Jongun but insisted he was in “no rush” after top-level preparatory talks were abruptly postponed.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was set to meet a top North Korean official on Thursday in New York to prepare a second summit and work on a potentially landmark deal on ending North Korea’s nuclear program.
But the State Department, without offering a reason, said late Tuesday that Pompeo’s meeting was put off.
The reason for the abrupt postponement is that the “two sides [US and North Korea] did not reach an agreement on lifting sanctions and the steps for denuclearization,” Choi Young-jin, former South Korean vice foreign minister and ambassador to the US, told the Global Times on Thursday.
“North Korea will develop its economy and renounce nuclear weapons gradually if everything goes well. Otherwise, they will keep the nuclear weapons and abandon economic development. In the beginning, it was the lifting of economic sanctions that made North Korea begin to abandon nuclear weapons,” Choi said.
“Trump thinks that as long as North Korea stops nuclear testing, which does pose a great threat to the US, it does not matter how long the negotiation process of denuclearization takes,” said Choi.
In a free-wheeling news conference after midterm elections, Trump said he was willing to eventually ease the pressure on North Korea.
“I would love to take the sanctions off, but they have to be responsive too,” Trump said.
Trump played down the delay in Pompeo’s meeting with Kim Yong-chol, a right-hand man of North Korea’s leader, and said it was a scheduling issue.
“We will make it another day. But we are very happy how it is going with North Korea,” Trump said.
“But I will say this, I will say this very simply – We are in no rush, the sanctions are on,” he said.
North Korea has demanded that the US end its tough economic sanctions now that it is negotiating with Trump over its nuclear program.
State-run media, in a statement last week, warned that North Korea was “seriously” considering a return to a guiding policy of building nuclear weapons and said that sanctions were “incompatible” with improving relations with Washington.
But the Trump administration says that sanctions must remain as pressure until a final accord, rejecting an incremen- tal approach favored by ally South Korea as well as calls to end sanctions by China and Russia.
“The US will lift economic sanctions only when denuclearization is done, otherwise it would mean it recognizes North Korea as a legitimate nuclear power if they lift sanctions now,” Choi added.
Thus, the second summit is not very likely to take place if they cannot resolve the conflict over which comes first; the lifting of sanctions or the complete destruction of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, Choi noted.