Trump hints at 2nd Kim meeting

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Trump hints at 2nd Kim meeting

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday he would “most likely” have a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, noting that “a lot of good things are happening” in respect to North Korea.

“It’s most likely we will,” answered Trump when asked about the prospect of a second meeting with Kim in an interview with Reuters on Monday in the Oval Office. He refused to go into detail, saying, “But I just don’t want to comment.”

Trump’s remark has fueled speculation that the 72-year-old president has set his sights on hosting a second meeting with Kim, 38 years his junior, following their first encounter on June 12 in Singapore.

Trump said he believed Pyongyang had taken specific denuclearization steps as promised in the June 12 joint statement in which North Korea committed to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

“I do believe they have,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Trump’s comments raised some speculation that the North may have taken additional steps after blowing up parts of its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site and dismantling the Sohae missile engine testing site, possibly taking some action to reduce the amount of fuel for nuclear bombs, known as fissile material.

While Trump said there had been “a lot of good things happening” with the Kim regime, he expressed dissatisfaction with Beijing, saying the latter was not helping as much as in the past because of an ongoing trade dispute with his administration.

Trump’s suspicion that China was standing in the way of the United States trying to strike a deal with the North is not new.

On July 9, he tweeted, “I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake. China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade-Hope Not!”

Countering critics who say he is being played by Pyongyang, Trump said Monday, “I stopped nuclear testing. I stopped missile testing. … There’s no ballistic missiles going up, there’s a lot of silence.”

He noted he and Kim had “great chemistry” and went so far as to say “good personal relations” with Kim is “what holds it together,” referring to ongoing North-U.S. denuclearization talks amid a fast-changing diplomatic landscape that saw two inter-Korean summits and a Trump-Kim summit over the past four months.

Since the June 12 summit, Trump has talked positively about his North Korean counterpart and expressed trust in Kim’s pledge of denuclearization.

Commenting on North Korea’s returning of remains of U.S. service members killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, which was another point in the joint Singapore agreements, Trump tweeted, “I am not at all surprised that you took this kind action” referring to Kim, adding, “I look forward to seeing you soon!”

Trump’s remark about a second meeting with Kim came as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to visit Pyongyang for the fourth time and meet with Kim to flesh out details of a denuclearization agreement, such as receiving a list of nuclear stockpiles and related facilities.

Pyongyang is insisting that the United States agree to declare a formal end to the Korean War, which ended in truce, not a peace treaty, leaving South and North Korea technically at war for 68 years.

The Tokyo-based Yomiuri Shimbun reported Tuesday that Choe Son-hui, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, asked Pompeo to visit Pyongyang before the North’s 70th state founding anniversary, which falls on Sept. 9, at a Panmunjom meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Korea Harry Harris held on Aug. 12.

Citing an unnamed source, the Japanese daily reported that the two sides made progress on the North’s declaration of nuclear stockpiles.

“We hope for a positive outcome from an improved North-U.S. relationship,” said Kim Eui-kyeom, the Blue House spokesman, Tuesday.

“As I said many times before, we need to have a virtuous cycle in which improved North-U.S. relations foster inter-Korean ties and vice versa,” he continued.

Projecting an optimistic outlook on the North’s denuclearization, the official stressed Kim Jong-un and Trump are “in the process of reaching an intended outcome based on their shared resolve for peace on the Korean Peninsula despite ups and downs along the way.”

With Trump’s raising of a second summit with Kim, September is poised to be filled with major diplomatic events, starting with Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang, possibly before Sept. 9, followed by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s expected visit there for the North’s founding anniversary. President Moon Jae-in is also expected to meet Kim a third time in Pyongyang sometime in mid-September.

Following the third inter-Korean summit this year, some speculate that Kim could attend the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly that kicks off on Sept. 18.

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