After a rare meeting with a high-ranking North Korean official, President Trump said Friday he has rescheduled a June 12 summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un as part of a long-term effort to try and end the latter’s nuclear weapons programs.
While hailing the promise of an unprecedented summit, Trump also sought to tamp down expectations by saying that “we’re not going to go sign something” at the Singapore meeting. Instead, he said, “the process will begin” on an agreement to have Kim eliminate the nuclear weapons that have generated global tensions for years.
“I think it’s a getting-to-know-you meeting, plus,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Friday’s announcement capped eight days of uncertainty that started May 24, when Trump said he was canceling the June 12 because of offensive comments made by the North Korean government. In the last week, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries, while North Korean envoys scrambled to the United States to meet with U.S. officials.
Trump spoke warmly about the North Koreans Friday after receiving a letter from Kim concerning the prospects of an historic summit between nuclear-armed leaders.
Kim Yong Chol, a former North Korean spy chief who is now a top aide to Kim Jong Un, entered the White House in the early afternoon to hand-deliver the letter to Trump during the Oval Office meeting with the U.S. president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Trump did not disclose the contents of Kim’s message — “oh, would you like to see what was in that letter,” he told reporters — but said he and the envoy discussed issues ranging from economic sanctions to a possible peace treaty between North and South Korea.
The president later said he had not even opened Kim’s letter, saying, “I may be in for a big surprise, folks.” The White House said later that Trump had read the letter.
North Korea wants the United States and allies to remove economic sanctions that are crippling its economy; Trump said “I look forward to the day when I can take the sanctions off North Korea,” but did not commit to such a step. He said additional sanctions are ready, but he will not apply them unless “the talks break down.”
Trump’s meeting with Kim Yong Chol and other North Korean officials lasted around an hour and 20 minutes. The president shook hands and posed for pictures outside the White House with members of the North Korean delegation.
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SOURCE: USA Today, David Jackson