WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump has sent mixed signals on his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un saying while it is on track, it may take place later than planned.
Speaking to reporters at a meeting Tuesday (May 22) at the White House with South Korea’s President Moon Jae In, he said he believed North Korea was serious about denuclearisation and the summit - set for June 12 in Singapore - was still on.
But he added : “There’s a chance it will work out, and there’s a very substantial chance that it won’t work out, and that’s okay, it doesn’t mean it won’t work out over a period of time.”
And asked what his long term vision was for the Korean peninsula he said: “I see two Koreas and then ultimately, some day in the future, maybe they’ll get together and they’ll go back to one Korea, and that will be okay with me too as long as they both wanted that.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later said the US was still planning for a June 12 summit but declined to predict whether it would actually take place.
He told a news briefing the US would do what it could to ensure the Trump-Kim talks were a success and that he was “confident we’ll get there” in the end. He said China had offered “historic assistance” in pressuring Pyongyang.
Mr Trump cast some doubt on China’s role, however, saying Mr Kim appeared to have had a “little change in attitude” since meeting for a second time in just weeks with China’s President Xi Jinping.
The unannounced meeting took place in Dalian on May 7-8.
“I don’t like that,” he said. “I have a great relationship with President Xi, he’s a friend of mine… but there was a difference when Kim Jong Un left China the second time. I think President Xi is a world class poker player. There was a somewhat different attitude after that meeting. Maybe nothing happened and maybe it did.”
“Nobody knew about that meeting... and I think things changed after that meeting so I can’t say that I’m happy about it,” he said.
He also said China’s border with North Korea had been “opened up a little lately and I don’t like that.”
But on his own summit, he said “We’re moving along and we’ll see what happens, there are certain conditions that we want and I think we’ll get those conditions, and if we don’t we won’t have the meeting.”
“Whether a deal is made or not, who knows. You never know about deals. I’ve made a lot of deals. You never really know.
“It may not work out for June 12,” he said.
“Maybe it will happen later, maybe it will happen at a different time but we will see.”
“Denuclearisation must take place,” he insisted. “I have a very strong idea and very strong opinions on the subject.”
Mr Trump suggested there was a chance Mr Moon would meet Mr Kim again before his own summit with the North Korean leader.
And he reiterated that he would guarantee Mr Kim’s security if the North Korean leader agreed to denuclearisation.
“He will be safe, he will be happy, his country will be rich,” he said.
“North Korea has a chance to be a great country and it can’t be under the circumstances. I think they should seize the opportunity.”
“South Korea, China and Japan, they will be willing to help and I believe invest very, very large sums of money into helping to make North Korea great,” he said.
Mr Moon lavished praise on Mr Trump, saying “Thanks to your vision of achieving peace through strength... we are looking forward to the first ever US-North Korea summit and find ourselves one step closer to peace on the Korean peninsula and world peace.”
Praising Mr Moon in turn, the American President said: “I think he is a very capable person, extremely competent man and wants what’s good the entire Korean peninsula; I have tremendous confidence in President Moon and I think his way is really helping us in potentially making a deal.”