President Donald Trump said Friday he had a “very good meeting” with Kim Yong Chol, the envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the country’s top nuclear negotiator.
Kim Yong Chol delivered a letter from his boss to Trump during a White House meeting that ended up going for two hours and covered a range of topics, including denuclearization and sanctions. Trump confirmed the meeting with Kim Jong Un scheduled for June 12 in Singapore will go forward as planned; although, he said it will only be a starting point.
“I never said it goes in one meeting,” Trump said. “I think it’s going to be a process, but the relationships are building and that’s a very positive thing.”
“You’re talking about years of hostility, years of problems, years of, really, hatred between so much different nations,” Trump added. “I think you’re going to have a really positive result in the end, not from one meeting.”
Trump voiced his hope North Korea will go along with full denuclearization and will support economic development.
“I think they want to do that. I know they want to do that. They want other things along the line,” he said. “They want to develop as a country. That’s going to happen. I have no doubt.”
Trump said the letter from Kim Jong Un presaged a relationship that would begin on June 12.
“Well, this was a very good meeting. Don’t forget, this was a meeting where a letter was given to me by Kim Jong Un and that letter was a very nice letter,” he said “Oh, would you like to see what was in that letter.”
Trump later said he has not yet read the letter, instead focusing on his discussion with Kim Yong Chol. Trump said he told the envoy North Korea can take its time, since he does not want to impose new sanctions until the North Korean regime forces him to.
“I told him today, take your time,” Trump said. “We can go fast; we can go slowly. I think they’d like to see something happen, and if we can work that out, that would be good. The process will begin on June 12 in Singapore.”
Later, Trump said he wants a deal where economic relations are normalized.
“At a certain point, I tell you what, I look forward to the day when I can take the sanctions off of North Korea,” Trump said.
The president’s points indicated relations were apparently thawing between the U.S. and Kim’s regime, and a reporter asked whether Trump was continuing with his stated tactic of “maximum pressure.” Trump said that term no longer describes his strategy.
“I don’t even want to use the term ‘maximum pressure’ anymore,” Trump said. “I don’t even want to use that term, because we’re getting along. You see the relationship. It’s not a question of maximum pressure. At some point, hopefully for the good of millions of people, a deal will be worked out.”
Trump had responded to North Korea’s ballistic missile tests with his “maximum pressure” campaign, leading to sanctions and fiery rhetoric. Trump, however, credited Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with forming a “very good relationship” with North Korea, leading to the release of American hostages and the beginning of talks.
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