United States President Donald Trump confirmed that the June 12 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un which he previously cancelled is back on. The American President also said the summit may lead to more meetings with North Korea
President Trump held a private meeting with Kim’s top aide, Kim Jong-chol before addressing reporters. He indicated that he could be agreeable to North Korea’s position that denuclearization should be a drawn-out process:
“The big deal will be on June 12. It’s a process, we’re not going in and sign something on June 12 and we never were. We are going to start a process. And I told them today: take your time. We can go fast, we can go slowly. I think they’d like to see something happen and if we can work something out that will be good.”
U.S. Defence Secretary, James Mattis, outlined part of the agenda for the June 12 meeting. However, Mattis stressed that America’s military arrangement with South Korea was not part of the agenda:
“Our objective remains the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
The United States’ joint military exercises with South Korea irked North Korea which viewed the drills as a “rehearsal for an invasion”. To make matters worse, Trump’s security adviser, John Bolton, suggested that North Korea follow the denuclearization model of Libya.
Kim Jong-un has repeatedly said the purpose of developing North Korea’s program was to avoid the same fate as Libyan President Mohammar Ghadaffi who was killed in a U.S.-backed uprising.
The circumstances triggered a contentious exchange between both countries which ultimately led President Trump to initially cancel the June 12 meeting.
President Trump added that he does see the need to impose more economic sanctions on North Korea:
“I don’t want to use the term maximum pressure anymore. We have hundreds of new sanctions ready to go. But why would I do that when we’re talking so nicely?”
The President also clarified that North Korea’s human rights record was not discussed during the meeting with Kim Yong-chol.