Sun, Jun 03, 2018 - Page 1 News List

US-N Korea summit back on; Trump receives letter

COOLDOWN:In a turn from his previous rhetoric, Trump stressed the time it will take to reach any conclusions, as well as his distaste for the term ‘maximum pressure’

AP, WASHINGTON

US President Donald Trump, second right, walks with North Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee Vice Chairman Kim Yong-chol, left, in Washington on Friday.

Photo: EPA

After a week of hard-nosed negotiation, diplomatic gamesmanship and no shortage of theatrics, US President Donald Trump has announced that the summit he had canceled with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is back on.

Despite recently envisioning Nobel laurels, Trump on Friday worked to lower expectations for a quick breakthrough at the meeting set for June 12 in Singapore.

“We’re going to deal and we’re going to really start a process,” Trump said from the South Lawn of the White House after seeing off a senior North Korean deputy who spent more than an hour with him.

Much has been made of a letter from Kim that his visitor delivered, but Trump’s comments left it unclear when he took a look at it.

Trump said it was likely that more than a single meeting would be necessary to bring about his goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

In the latest sign of hostility cooling down, Trump said he had unilaterally put a hold on hundreds of new sanctions against the North, without Kim’s government asking.

“I don’t even want to use the term ‘maximum pressure’ anymore,” Trump added, referencing his preferred term for the punishing US economic sanctions imposed on North Korea in response to its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

However, he said he would not remove current sanctions until the North took steps to denuclearize.

Trump warmly greeted North Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee Vice Chairman Kim Yong-chol in the Oval Office, where a brief encounter meant for the hand delivery of a personal letter from Kim Jong-un became a longer discussion of areas of disagreement between the two nations.

Trump told reporters he had not yet read the letter from the North Korean leader and added: “I may be in for a big surprise, folks.”

However, he had minutes earlier described the note as “a very interesting letter” and teased journalists about revealing its contents.

Questions remain about what a deal on the North’s nuclear weapons would look like.

Trump on Friday said he believed Kim Jong-un would agree to denuclearization, but the two nations have offered differing visions of what that entails.

Despite Kim Jong-un’s apparent eagerness for a summit with Trump, there are many doubts that he would fully relinquish his nuclear arsenal, which he might see as his guarantee of survival.

Japan and South Korea offered very different views of the North Korean leader at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore.

Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera urged caution in dealing with North Korea, while South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo said there was no reason to question Kim Jong-un’s sincerity.

“In light of how North Korea behaved in the past, it is important not to reward it for agreeing to have dialogue,” Onodera said, adding that the only way to bring peace was to ensure that North Korea takes concrete action to end all nuclear programs and the development of ballistic missiles.

Song said he recognized there was debate about the extent of the disarmament that the North should be made to agree to, but if the focus was on disagreement and not on the way forward, dialogue would never make progress.

“If you continue to doubt Kim Jong-un’s motives, that will only come as an obstacle to dialogue and progress,” he said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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