Donald Trump hints at another meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un
BEDMINSTER, N.J. – President Donald Trump said Saturday he is looking forward to another meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to discuss the elusive goal of denuclearization.
In a tweet about the recent letter he received from Kim, Trump said the North Korean leader “stated, very nicely, that he would like to meet and start negotiations as soon as the joint U.S./South Korea joint exercise are over.”
Kim protested the joint military exercises – as has Trump himself – and offered “a small apology” for North Korea’s recent missile testing, Trump said. He said that Kim claimed that “this testing would stop when the exercises end” between the U.S. and South Korea.
Trump’s comments came just hours after North Korea conducted what looked to be even more missile tests, the latest in a series of aggressive moves by Kim’s government.
“I look forward to seeing Kim Jong Un in the not too distant future!” Trump said. “A nuclear free North Korea will lead to one of the most successful countries in the world!”
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Trump, who is spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., did not suggest a date or a location for another meeting with Kim. The two sides are hoping to start new talks soon among lower level aides.
Trump and Kim have met three times, including two formal summits in Singapore and Vietnam. They also held an informal meeting in late June at the Demilitarized Zone on the North Korea-South Korea border.
However, they have failed to break the impasse on an agreement over ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.
North Korea wants the U.S. to end economic sanctions that have crippled its economy and the U.S. wants to see action on a specific denuclearization plan before withdrawing sanctions.
Trump discussed the potential for another meeting with Kim even after North Korea fired two more projectiles off of its east coast on Saturday, another move in a series of missile tests that have rattled the region politically.
Kim’s government said it is protesting the latest round of joint U.S.-South Korea military drills that are scheduled to begin Sunday.
In discussing Kim’s letter Friday with reporters, Trump said he too has “never been a fan” of the military exercises because “I don’t like paying for it.” The president said he approved this weekend’s exercises with South Korea because “this was a big test.”
As for the North Korean missile tests, Trump has always downplayed them. “There have been no nuclear tests,” he said Friday. “The missile tests have all been short-range. No ballistic missile tests. No long-range missiles.”
Foreign policy analysts have questioned whether Kim is sincere about ending his nuclear weapons programs, saying they are the key to his preserving control of his government.
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Some analysts say Kim Jong Un is trying to play Trump for a fool, making vague pledges of denuclearization to leverage concessions from the United States – in this case, the end of joint U.S.-Korean military exercises.
“Trump is Kim’s best shot for deal,” tweeted Robert Kelly, a professor of political science at Pusan National University in South Korea. “No other POTUS would have meet with Kim for nothing, and certainly none will fawn over KJU as Trump does.”