Trump: Korea summit ‘one-time shot’ for Kim
SINGAPORE — President Donald Trump cast his Tuesday summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un as a “one-time shot” for the autocratic leader to ditch his nuclear weapons and enter the community of nations, saying he would know within moments if Kim is serious about the talks.
Trump said Saturday that he was embarking on a “mission of peace,” as he departed the Group of Seven meeting in Canada to fly to the summit site in Singapore.
Saying he has a “clear objective in mind” to persuade Kim to abandon his nuclear program in exchange for unspecified “protections” from the U.S., Trump acknowledged that the direction of the high-stakes meeting is unpredictable, adding it “will always be spur of the moment.”
“It’s unknown territory in the truest sense, but I really feel confident,” he told reporters. “I feel that Kim Jong Un wants to do something great for his people and he has that opportunity, and he won’t have that opportunity again.”
“It’s a one-time shot, and I think it’s going to work out very well,” he said.
The meeting will be the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Unlike traditional summits between heads of state, where most of the work is completed in advance of a photo-op, U.S. officials say the only thing certain ahead of these talks will be their unpredictability.
Raising expectations in advance of the meeting, Trump said the outcome will rely heavily on his own instincts. The U.S. president, who prides himself on his deal-making prowess, said he will know “within the first minute” of meeting Kim whether the North Korean leader is serious about the nuclear negotiations.
“I think I’ll know pretty quickly whether or not, in my opinion, something positive will happen. And if I think it won’t happen, I’m not going to waste my time. I don’t want to waste his time,” Trump said.
“This is a leader who really is an unknown personality,” Trump added of Kim. “People don’t know much about him. I think that he’s going to surprise on the upside, very much on the upside.”
As he looks to the Kim meeting, Trump is taking a highstakes risk, granting Kim the international legitimacy he’s long sought in hopes of securing a legacy-defining accord.
“He could take that nation with those great people and truly make it great,” Trump said. “That’s why I feel positive, because it makes so much sense.”
Trump also praised the North Koreans, saying they have been “really working very well with us” during summit preparations.
Trump reiterated his promise that the U.S. “will watch over and we’ll protect” Kim and his government in return for him giving up the nuclear program. He indicated South Korea, China and Japan are prepared to invest in the North to boost its economy.
People held candles near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, on Saturday during a rally expressing wishes for a successful summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
A cannon is stuffed with flowers at Fort Siloso, a preserved coastal fort on the island of Sentosa, Singapore, as a symbol of peace in honor of the U.S.-North Korea talks that will take place in Singapore on Tuesday.