U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday held out the prospect of inviting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to the White House if he deemed next week’s summit a success while also signaling he was willing to walk away if he thought talks did not go well.
At a White House news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump also repeated what he said last week that it was possible he and Kim could sign an agreement to end the 1950-53 Korean War, which was concluded only with a truce, not a peace treaty.
“We could sign an agreement, as you know that would be a first step ... We’re looking at it, we’re talking about it with a lot of other people,” Trump told reporters. “That’s probably the easy part. The hard part remains after that.”
Trump added that he hoped someday U.S. relations with Kim’s secretive Pyongyang government could be normalized.
The main issue for the June 12 summit in Singapore is the U.S. demand for North Korea to abandon a nuclear weapons program that now threatens the United States.
North Korea has rejected giving up its arsenal unilaterally and defends its nuclear and missile programs as a deterrent against what it sees as U.S. aggression. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday reemphasized Washington’s stance going into the talks.
Pompeo said Trump will reject anything short of “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“President Trump is hopeful. But he’s also going into the summit with his eyes wide open,” Pompeo said at a White House briefing after the Trump-Abe news conference.
Pompeo, however, added that the U.S. would work to guarantee North Korea’s security should it denuclearize. Trump “is prepared to ensure a DPRK free of its weapons of mass destruction is also a secure North Korea,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo plans to stay in the region following the summit to meet with officials from Japan and South Korea and to travel to China, an important North Korean ally, to discuss the next steps involving Pyongyang.
Trump told reporters on Thursday he would quit the talks if he felt he must, and would ramp up U.S. sanctions pressure on North Korea if the talks did not go well.
“I am totally prepared to walk away,” he said.
On the other hand, Trump said he might extend an invitation to Kim to Washington.
“Certainly if it goes well. I think it would be well received,” he said in answer to a question. “I think he would look at it very favorably so I think that could happen.” (Reuters)