WASHINGTON – A week before another high-profile summit with Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump said Tuesday he’s in “no rush” to have North Korea denuclearize – as long it continues to hold off on testing of nuclear weapons and missiles.
“As long as there’s no testing, I’m in no rush,” Trump told reporters while discussing his latest phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “If there’s testing, that’s another deal.”
Trump flies next week to Hanoi, Vietnam, for two days of meetings with Kim, a sequel of sorts to their first meeting last year in Singapore.
In further preparation, Trump said he plans to speak Wednesday with another key player in the region, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
In the South Korean call, Moon told Trump he hopes the summit “will provide a ‘critical turning point’ to accomplish complete de-nuclearization, a peace regime on the peninsula and development of NK-US relations,” according to a statement from Moon’s office.
Kim pledged at the Singapore meeting to eliminate his country’s nuclear weapons programs, but some U.S. officials said North Korea has yet to take concrete, verifiable steps to that end. The U.S. is looking for firmer commitments at the Vietnam summit.
North Korea, meanwhile, wants the United States and other countries to start reducing economic sanctions before it makes major changes to its nuclear programs.
In their 35-minute phone call, Moon offered to help any way he could, his office said, “from reconnecting rail/road links between the two Koreas to other inter-Korean economic cooperation.”
As for Trump, the South Koreans said the U.S. president “expressed his anticipation for the meeting” with Kim, “and said he would call again to share its results as quickly as it’s over.”
Skeptics have questioned Kim’s sincerity about eliminating nuclear weapons programs, saying their are essential to his regime.
Trump said North Korea’s decision to halt nuclear and missile testing is a sign of good faith. The president said he has “no pressing time schedule” for denuclearization, and looks forward to hearing what Kim has to say on the subject.
“I think that it’ll be a very exciting couple of days,” Trump said.
David Jackson, USA TODAY
The 21st Century