Trump signals softening of stance, scoffs at critics in US

Workers putting up decorations outside the Melia Hanoi Hotel yesterday, one of the possible places where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may stay. Vietnam has released few details about arrangements for the summit, including the specific venue or tim
Workers putting up decorations outside the Melia Hanoi Hotel yesterday, one of the possible places where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may stay. Vietnam has released few details about arrangements for the summit, including the specific venue or timing.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

He says he is in no rush to sign deal on denuclearisation; end to Korean War a possibility at summit, says S. Korea

WASHINGTON/HANOI • US President Donald Trump has said he would be happy as long as North Korea maintains its pause on weapons testing, and he was in no rush to strike a nuclear deal with its leader, Mr Kim Jong Un, when they hold their second summit this week.

Meanwhile, hopes that Mr Trump and Mr Kim will formally declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War at the Hanoi summit rose yesterday, after South Korea said the two leaders could reach an agreement.

The two men will meet in Hanoi tomorrow and on Thursday, eight months after their historic summit in Singapore, which was the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

There, they had pledged to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, but their vague agreement has produced few results.

US Democratic senators and security officials have warned Mr Trump against cutting a deal that would do little to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

As Mr Kim made his way across China by train for the summit, North Korean state media warned Mr Trump on Sunday not to listen to US critics who it said were disrupting efforts to improve ties.

Mr Trump, speaking in Washington on the eve of his departure for Vietnam, said he believed he saw eye to eye with Mr Kim, and that they had developed "a very, very good relationship".

"I am not in a rush. I don't want to rush anybody," Mr Trump said. "I just don't want testing. As long as there is no testing, we are happy."

NO RUSH TO DENUCLEARISE

I am not in a rush. I don't want to rush anybody. I just don't want testing. As long as there is no testing, we are happy.

US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, on North Korea maintaining a pause on nuclear weapons testing.

North Korea conducted its last nuclear test, its sixth, in September 2017. It last tested an inter-continental ballistic missile in November 2017.

The Trump administration has pressed the North to give up its nuclear weapons programme which, combined with its missile capabilities, poses a threat to the United States, before it can expect any concessions.

However, in recent days, Mr Trump has signalled a possible softening, saying that he would love to be able to remove sanctions if there was meaningful progress on denuclearisation.

 
 
 
 

Mr Trump said he and Mr Kim expected to make further progress at the summit, and again held out the promise that denuclearisation would help North Korea develop its economy.

He scoffed at critics of his handling of North Korea, and added that Chinese President Xi Jinping has been supportive of US efforts.

Mr Trump will arrive in Vietnam this evening, Vietnam's Foreign Ministry said. He will meet Vietnam President Nguyen Phu Trong, who is also general secretary of the ruling Communist Party, tomorrow morning, the ministry said.

Mr Kim is making his way to Vietnam, through China, by train, and is expected to arrive early today.

Meanwhile, South Korea's presidential Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters yesterday about the possibility that the Korean War would be formally declared over at the summit.

"There is no way of knowing what kind of declaration it might be, but I believe the US and North Korea may reach an agreement," he said.

The devastating conflict between communist North Korea, backed by China, and the capitalist South, aided by the US, ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving Pyongyang and Washington still technically at war.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2019, with the headline 'Trump signals softening of stance, scoffs at critics in US'. Print Edition | Subscribe