Trump hopes to meet Kim next year

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

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.

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