Trump plays down need for prepa­ra­tion for up­com­ing sum­mit

Manteca Bulletin - - Nation -

WASHINGTON (AP) — Head­ing into his North Korea sum­mit with char­ac­ter­is­tic bravado, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump says that “at­ti­tude” is more im­por­tant than prepa­ra­tion as he looks to ne­go­ti­ate an ac­cord with Kim Jong Un to de­nu­cle­arize the Korean Penin­sula.

Pre­par­ing to de­part Washington for next week’s meet­ing, Trump dan­gled be­fore Kim vi­sions of nor­mal­ized re­la­tions with the United States, eco­nomic in­vest­ment and even a White House visit. Char­ac­ter­iz­ing the up­com­ing talks with the third-gen­er­a­tion au­to­crat as a “friendly ne­go­ti­a­tion,” Trump said, “I re­ally be­lieve that Kim Jong Un wants to do some­thing.”

Trump’s comments Thurs­day came as he looked to re­as­sure al­lies that he won’t give away the store in pur­suit of a legacy-defin­ing deal with Kim, who has long sought to cast off his pariah sta­tus on the in­ter­na­tional stage. The North has faced crip­pling diplo­matic and eco­nomic sanc­tions as it has ad­vanced de­vel­op­ment of its nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grams.

“I don’t think I have to pre­pare very much,” Trump said. “It’s about at­ti­tude. It’s about will­ing­ness to get things done.”

Declar­ing the sum­mit to be “much more than a photo-op,” he pre­dicted “a ter­rific suc­cess or a mod­i­fied suc­cess” when he meets with Kim next Tues­day in Sin­ga­pore. He said the talks would start a process to bring about a res­o­lu­tion to the nu­clear is­sue.

“I think it’s not a one-meet­ing deal,” he said. Asked how many days he’s will­ing to stay to talk with Kim, Trump said, “One, two three, de­pend­ing on what hap­pens.”

Still he pre­dicted he’ll know very quickly whether Kim is se­ri­ous about deal­ing with U.S. de­mands.

“They have to de-nuke,” Trump said. “If they don’t de­nu­cle­arize, that will not be ac­cept­able. And we can­not take sanc­tions off.”

Trump, who coined the term “max­i­mum pres­sure” to de­scribe U.S. sanc­tions against the North, said they would be an in­di­ca­tor for the suc­cess or fail­ure of the talks.

“We don’t use the term any­more be­cause we’re go­ing into a friendly ne­go­ti­a­tion,” Trump said. “Per­haps af­ter that ne­go­ti­a­tion, I will be us­ing it again. You’ll know how well we do in the ne­go­ti­a­tion. If you hear me say­ing, ‘We’re go­ing to use max­i­mum pres­sure,’ you’ll know the ne­go­ti­a­tion did not do well, frankly.”

At an­other point, he said it was “ab­so­lutely” pos­si­ble he and Kim could sign a dec­la­ra­tion to end the Korean War. The 1950-53 con­flict ended with an armistice but not a for­mal peace treaty.

Trump spent Thurs­day morn­ing fir­ing off a dozen un­re­lated tweets — on the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion and other sub­jects — be­fore meet­ing with Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe to talk about sum­mit prepa­ra­tions and strat­egy.

“I think I’ve been pre­pared for this sum­mit for a long time, as has the other side,” he said. “II think they’ve been pre­par­ing for a long time also. So this isn’t a ques­tion of prepa­ra­tion, it’s a ques­tion of whether or not peo­ple want it to hap­pen.”

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials in­di­cated that Trump ac­tu­ally was putting in prepa­ra­tion time. Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil spokesman Gar­rett Mar­quis noted the pres­i­dent met with Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser John Bolton Thurs­day af­ter­noon “to con­tinue their strate­gic dis­cus­sions” ahead of the sum­mit.

Pom­peo said he was con­fi­dent the pres­i­dent would be fully pre­pared and dis­missed re­ports of di­vi­sion in­side Trump’s for­eign pol­icy team over the de­ci­sion to em­brace the meet­ing with Kim.

In his pre­vi­ous role as CIA di­rec­tor, Pom­peo told re­porters Thurs­day, “there were few days that I left the Oval Of­fice, af­ter hav­ing briefed the pres­i­dent, that we didn’t talk about North Korea.”

Pom­peo said Kim had “per­son­ally” given him as­sur­ances that he was will­ing to pur­sue de­nu­cle­ariza­tion and said U.S. and North Korean ne­go­ti­at­ing teams had made un­spec­i­fied progress to­ward bridg­ing the gap over defin­ing that term as part of a po­ten­tial agree­ment. He would not say whether Trump would in­sist that the North put an end to its chem­i­cal, bi­o­log­i­cal and bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grams.

Pom­peo said Trump’s ap­proach is “fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent” from prior ad­min­is­tra­tions. “In the past, there’d been months and months of de­tailed ne­go­ti­a­tions and they got nowhere,” he said. “This has al­ready driven us to a place we’d not been able to achieve.”

Since tak­ing of­fice, Trump has re­peat­edly accused his pre­de­ces­sors of fail­ing to ad­dress the nu­clear threat from a na­tion that launched its atomic pro­gram in the 1960s and be­gan pro­duc­ing bomb fuel in the early 1990s. Past ad­min­is­tra­tions have also used a com­bi­na­tion of sanc­tions and diplo­macy to seek de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, but the results failed to en­dure.

Christo­pher Hill, the lead U.S. ne­go­tia­tor with North Korea dur­ing the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, said a sum­mit with the North had long been avail­able to U.S. lead­ers.

“The fact was no U.S. pres­i­dent wanted to do this, and for good rea­son,” he said. “It’s a big coup for (the North Ko­re­ans), so the ques­tion is whether we can make them pay for it.”

Be­fore he sits down with Kim, Trump must first face wary U.S. al­lies who ques­tion his com­mit­ment to their own se­cu­rity and re­sent his quar­relling with them on sen­si­tive trade mat­ters. Trump on Fri­day de­parts for a 24-hour stop in Canada for a Group of Seven sum­mit of lead­ing in­dus­trial na­tions.

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