Trump picks June 12 for summit.
WASHINGTON » Envisioning “a very special moment for world peace,” President Donald Trump announced Thursday he willmeet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un for highly anticipated summit talks in Singapore on June 12. He set the stage for his announcement by hosting a 3 a.m., made-for-TV welcome home for three Americans held by Kim’s government.
“We welcomed them back home the proper way,” Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Indiana Thursday evening.
Final details in place, Trump and Kim agreed to the first face-to-face North Korea-U.S. summit since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. It’s the most consequential and perhaps riskiest foreign policy effort so far in Trump’s presidency as North Korea’s nuclear program approaches a treacherous milestone — the capacity to strike the continental U.S. with a thermonuclear warhead.
Trump says the U.S. is aiming for “denuclearization” of the entire Korean peninsula, but he has yet to fill in just what steps that might include and what the timing would be.
“We’re starting off on a new footing,” Trump said of himself and Kim as he welcomed the detainees in a floodlit ceremony at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington. He hailed their release as a potential breakthrough in relations between the longtime adversary nations. He and Kim “will both try to make it a very special moment for-World Peace!” he said of the summit later on Twitter. He told his rally crowd, “I think it’s going to be a very big success.”
Kim has suspended nuclear and missile tests and put his nuclear program up for negotiation, but questions remain about how serious his offer is and what disarmament steps he would be willing to take. The White House has said withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops from South Korea is “not on the table.”
Long before dawn Thursday, with the former detainees by his side on the air base tarmac, Trump said it was a “great honor” to welcome them back to the U.S. but “the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons.”
Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, other top officials and first lady-Melania joined the president for the air base celebration. The former-detainees— Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim — had been released Wednesday at the end of Pompeo’s visit to North Korea.
They appeared tired but in excellent spirits, flashing peace signs and waving their arms as they emerged fromthe aircraft. One said through a translator, “It’s like a dream; we are very, very happy.” They later gave the president a round of applause.
Pence said Pompeo had told him that at a refueling stop in Anchorage, “one of the detainees asked to go outside the plane because he hadn’t seen daylight in a very long time.” The men were taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for evaluation before being reunited with their families. Trump thanked North Korean leader Kim for releasing the Americans and said, “I really think he wants to do something” on denuclearization.
President Donald Trump speaks at Andrews Air Force Base inMaryland as he stands with Tony Kim, left, KimDong Chul, center right, and Kim Hak Song, right, three Americans who were detained in North Korea for more than a year.