Trump picks June 12 for sum­mit.

The Mercury News Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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