WASHINGTON – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has formally asked President Donald Trump for a second meeting regarding his nation’s nuclear weapons program, and the White House said it is open to the idea.
The request came in a “very warm, very positive letter” from Kim to Trump, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters.
“The primary purpose of the letter was to request and look to schedule another meeting with the president, which we are open to and are already in the process of coordinating that,” Sanders said. There is no date or location set, she said.
Trump last month canceled a visit to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, expressing concern that there had not been enough progress on denuclearization.
Sanders said Trump was pleased with the fact that North Korea’s recent military parade did not include displays of its intercontinental ballistic missiles, as it has in the past. Those missiles are designed to deliver nuclear warheads.
“The recent parade in North Korea, for once, was not about their nuclear arsenal,” Sanders said. “The president has achieved tremendous success with his policies so far. And this letter was further evidence of progress in that relationship.”
As evidence of the improved relations, Sanders noted that North Korea has not conducted further nuclear or missile tests and the government returned what it said were the remains of some U.S. troops killed in the Korean War.
Trump and Kim met June 12 in Singapore, and they signed aloosely worded agreement in which Kim pledged to work toward “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
In the months since, foreign policy analysts have criticized the agreement for lacking specifics on exactly when and how Kim might relinquish his nuclear arsenal , and some have suggested the North Korean leader is playing Trump.
In August, a United Nations watchdog organization said there were no signs that Kim’s government had stopped its nuclear weapons activities. The International Atomic Energy Agency said “the continuation and further development” of North Korea’s nuclear program is “cause for grave concern,” according to the IAEA’s Aug. 20 report.
Trump has defended the agreement and praised Kim, even as he has questioned the pace of denuclearization in recent weeks.
In tweeting Aug. 24 that he had canceled a Pompeo trip to Pyongyang, Trump said “I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
The North Koreans have reportedly asked the U.S. to issue a peace declaration officially ending the Korean War. Trump has signaled his openness to such a move. But other officials in his administration have resisted, saying the Kim regime needed to take concrete steps toward denuclearization first.
“That’s what we’re waiting for,” John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, told reporters on Monday when asked about the North Korea talks.
Trump has placed more of the blame on China than on North Korea for the stalled negotiations, citing ongoing U.S. trade disputes with Beijing.
In a follow-up tweet, Trump said that “Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our Trading relationship with China is resolved.”
This past weekend, after the North Korean military parade that did not include nuclear weapons, Trump tweeted that “this is a big and very positive statement from North Korea. Thank you To Chairman Kim. We will both prove everyone wrong!”
Olivia Enos, policy analyst with the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, said she is skeptical about the prospects of a second Trump-Kim meeting.
“The first Trump-Kim summit could hardly be called a success,” Enos said, and a repeat could “serve as yet another publicity stunt for the Kim regime – an opportunity to paper over ongoing human rights abuses, including prison camps that hold between 80,000 and 120,000 individuals – and to garner legitimacy in the eyes of the international community.”
Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2CDppfF