Mon, Jan 08, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Trump says he is open to holding talks with Kim

AP, THURMONT, Maryland

US President Donald Trump speaks during a retreat with Republican lawmakers at Camp David in Thurmont, Maryland, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump, shelving comparisons about the size of a “nuclear button,” on Saturday said that he is open to talking with the North Korean leader he has called “Little Rocket Man” and hopes some progress results from upcoming talks between the Koreas.

Trump, who last year lambasted his chief diplomat for talking about negotiations with the nuclear-armed North, told reporters at Camp David that some dialogue or direct conversation with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was not beyond the realm of possibility.

“Sure, I always believe in talking,” Trump said. “Absolutely I would do that, I wouldn’t have a problem with that at all.”

However, he was quick to add that any talks would come with conditions, which he did not specify.

The first formal talks between North and South Korea in more than two years are set to take place in a border town tomorrow as the rivals try to find ways to cooperate on next month’s Winter Olympics in the South and to improve their ties.

Tensions are high because of the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

“Right now they’re talking Olympics. It’s a start, it’s a big start,” Trump said during a question-and-answer session after meetings with Republican leaders in the US Congress and Cabinet members on the US administration’s legislative agenda for this year.

“[Kim] knows I’m not messing around. I’m not messing around, not even a little bit, not even 1 percent. He understands that,” Trump said.

Assessing next week’s discussions, Trump said: “If something can happen and something can come out of those talks, that would be a great thing for all of humanity. That would be a great thing for the world.”

The US president also said that he had spoken with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who “thanks me very much for my tough stance.”

“You have to have a certain attitude and you have to be prepared to do certain things, and I’m totally prepared to do that,” Trump said, contending that his tough words have helped persuade the North to sit down with the South.

“Does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total ‘might’ against the North,” Trump tweeted last week.

His administration on Thursday agreed to delay joint military exercises with South Korea until after the Olympics.

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said that the move was a practical necessity to accommodate the Olympics and was not a political gesture.

Trump and Kim have traded barbs about their nuclear arsenals.

In a New Year’s address, Kim said he has a “nuclear button” on his office desk and warned that “the whole territory of the US is within the range of our nuclear strike.”

Trump responded: “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

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