Washington: President Donald Trump confirmed that he would hold a historic summit with Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore, following a two-hour meeting with the most senior North Korean official to visit the US in 18 years.
Trump’s announcement came at the end of a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House with North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol. Kim Yong Chol delivered a letter from the North Korean leader to Trump.
The US president expressed optimism that his summit with Kim Jong-un — and possible further meetings with the North Korean dictator — would eventually lead to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
“The meeting went very well. We’ll be meeting on June 12th in Singapore. It went very well. It’s really a get-to-know-you kind of a situation,” Trump said at an impromptu press conference with the White House pool soon after the North Korean envoy left.
Kim Yong Chol, a hardline former head of North Korean intelligence, drove to Washington from New York where he had met Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state who has flown to Pyongyang twice for talks with the North Korean leader.
Kim Yong Chol, the most senior North Korean to visit the US since Jo Myong Rok, a vice-marshal, met Bill Clinton in 2000, carried a letter from Kim Jong-Un for Trump.
US and North Korean officials have been negotiating in three locations — New York, Singapore and the Demilitarised Zone between South and North Korea — in an attempt to reach the parameters for a deal.
The US has stressed that it will only settle for “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation”. North Korea has said it was committed to “complete denuclearisation” but has provided no detail about the process.
Trump on Friday suggested that he might have to hold further meetings with Kim Jong-un after the Singapore summit. The President said he looked forward to the day when the sanctions could be lifted
Trump, however, said the current level of sanctions on North Korea would remain. “It’s going to remain what it is now. I don’t even want to use the term ‘maximum pressure’ anymore because we’re getting along,” he said.
He said the United States was unlikely to offer much aid to North Korea, which would be taken care of by South Korea and Japan.
Responding to a question, Trump said he was concerned about the recent visit of the Russian foreign minister to Pyongyang.
“I didn’t like it, but it could be very positive, too. I didn’t like the Russian meeting yesterday. If it’s a positive meeting, I love it. If it’s a negative meeting, I’m not happy,” he said.
The United States, Trump said, was going to ensure the security of Kim Jong-un. “We’re going to make sure when this is over, it’s over. It’s not going to be starting up again. They have a potential to be a great country. I think South Korea, Japan and China are going to help a lot,” he said.