President Trump says he has ‘clear objective’ for North Korea summit
President Donald Trump said Saturday he has “a clear objective” for his upcoming nuclear summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, though he acknowledged that potential progress “will always be spur of the moment.”
He described the meeting set for Tuesday in Singapore as a “one-time shot” for Kim and characterized it as a “mission of peace,” speaking shortly before he left a Group of Seven summit in Canada to fly to Asia.
The president told reporters that it’s “so far, so good” as he cast ahead to what he called “unknown territory in the truest sense.” He said he thinks “it’s going to work out very well.”
Trump, who prides himself on his deal-making prowess, said he will know “within the first minute” of meeting Kim whether the North Korean leader is serious about the nuclear negotiations.
“I think I’ll know pretty quickly whether or not, in my opinion, something positive will happen. And if I think it won’t happen, I’m not going to waste my time. I don’t want to waste his time,” Trump said.
The meeting will be the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.
Trump cited the unprecedented nature of the meeting and said he was convinced that Kim is serious about doing good things for his country.
“He could take that nation with those great people and truly make it great, so it’s a one-time, it’s a one-time shot, and I think it’s going to work out very well,” Trump said. “That’s why I feel positive, because it makes so much sense.”
He also praised the North Koreans, saying they have been “really working very well with us” during preparations for the summit, which Trump had canceled last month following a recent period of what he called “tremendous anger and open hostility” from the North Korean government. But then Trump did a quick pivot, signaling almost immediately after scrapping the meeting that he was open to going ahead with it after all.
Delegations from both countries then launched into a frenetic period of negotiations that are expected to culminate with Tuesday’s meeting.
“So far, so good. We’re going to have to see what happens. I very much look forward to it,” Trump said.
Trump hopes to persuade Kim to completely abandon the arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that the North Koreans have spent generations amassing.
“I have a clear objective, but I have to say that it’s going to be something that will always be spur of the moment. This has not been done before at this level. This is a leader who really is an unknown personality. People don’t know much about him. I think that he’s going to surprise on the upside, very much on the upside,” the president said.
Questions remain about what a deal on the North’s nuclear weapons would look like.
Trump has said he believes Kim would agree to denuclearization, but the two countries have offered differing visions of what that would entail. Despite Kim’s apparent eagerness for a summit with Trump, there are doubts that he would fully relinquish his nuclear arsenal, which he may see as his guarantee of survival.
U.S. defense and intelligence officials have assessed the North to be on the threshold of having the capability to strike anywhere in the continental U.S. with a nuclear-tipped missile — a capacity that Trump and other U.S. officials have said they would not tolerate.
Trump has promised to provide “protections” for Kim and his government in return for him giving up the nuclear program. He also indicated that South Korea, China and Japan would be prepared to invest in the North to boost its besieged economy.