WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - United States President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (Oct 9) that his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would be held after US congressional elections on Nov 6.
Speaking to reporters as he flew to Iowa for a political rally, Mr Trump said: “It’ll be after the mid-terms. I just can’t leave now.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Trump told reporters that plans were being made for his second summit with Mr Kim and that he thought “incredible” progress had been made in US talks with the isolated country.
He said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had very good talks with Mr Kim over the weekend and that three or four locations were being considered. Mr Trump said it will be "probably a different location" than Singapore, where the two leaders held their first summit.
Mr Pompeo echoed Mr Trump’s comments when he spoke briefly to reporters during a Tuesday afternoon visit to the White House.
“While there’s still a long way to go and much work to do, we can now see a path where we will achieve (our) ultimate goal, which is the full and final verified denuclearisation of North Korea,” he said.
Mr Trump and Mr Kim held a historic first summit in Singapore on June 12, at which Mr Kim pledged to work toward denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
His actions have fallen short, however, of Washington’s demands for a complete inventory of its weapons and facilities and irreversible steps to give up its nuclear arsenal, which could threaten the US.
North Korean officials have suggested Pyongyang as a site for the second Trump-Kim summit, though that would hand a major propaganda victory to Mr Kim without him having to make a concession.
Prior to that meeting, other sites reportedly under consideration were Geneva and Stockholm.
Mr Trump said: "Eventually we're going to have lots of meetings on US soil and on their soil by the way. That's a two-way street."
Mr Trump was upbeat on progress so far.
“You got no rockets flying, you have no missiles flying, you have no nuclear testing,” Mr Trump said in the Oval Office.
“We’ve made incredible progress – beyond incredible... But I have agreed to meet,” he said.
“We have a very good relationship with Chairman Kim. I like him, he likes me, the relationship is good.”
Mr Pompeo told a reporter travelling with him on Monday that "we made significant progress. We'll continue to make significant progress, and we are further along in making that progress than any administration in an awfully long time".
He cited Mr Kim's invitation to have inspectors visit the already dismantled Punggye-ri test facility, the site of all six of the regime's nuclear blasts. But when asked when inspectors might arrive, Mr Pompeo offered few specifics.
"As soon as we get it logistically worked out, Chairman Kim said he's ready... to allow them to come in," he said. And once the arrangements are made, "we'll put them on the ground".
As part of his delegation to Pyongyang, Mr Pompeo brought along Mr Stephen Biegun, his special representative to North Korea and the diplomat expected to take on more of the day-to-day negotiating with Mr Kim's regime.
But Mr Biegun never got to meet his likely North Korean counterpart, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui. Mr Choe was out of the country - meeting officials in Russia and China - when the Americans arrived.