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Trump says he has given Kim no concessions

Apr 24,2018
U.S. President Donald Trump boasted in a Twitter post on Sunday that North Korea had agreed to denuclearize without the United States making any concessions.

“Wow, we haven’t given up anything & they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!” the president tweeted, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s announcement on Friday that his country would close a nuclear test site and halt nuclear and missile tests.

Trump was responding to a report on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where host Chuck Todd asked Marc Short, the White House’s legislative affairs director, whether the United States was making a concession by meeting with Kim and questioned Pyongyang’s actual commitment to denuclearization.

In a separate tweet on Sunday, Trump acknowledged that the planned summit with Kim was just the beginning of negotiations. Preparations for the meeting have been progressing, with Mike Pompeo, director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, recently traveling to Pyongyang over Easter to meet with Kim.

“We are a long way from conclusion on North Korea,” Trump wrote on Twitter, “maybe things will work out, and maybe they won’t - only time will tell.” Later in the day, he tweeted, “Funny how all of the Pundits that couldn’t come close to making a deal on North Korea are now all over the place telling me how to make a deal!”

A summit meeting between Trump and Kim would be the first between an American and North Korea leader. It’s expected to take place in May or early June after a summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim scheduled to take place this Friday.

There is great anticipation that the summits could result in some sort of package settlement or grand deal that will set in motion North Korea’s nuclear disarmament and normalization of its relations with the United States.

At a Central Committee meeting of the North Korean Workers’ Party on Friday, Kim said his country would suspend all nuclear and missile tests and close a nuclear facility in its northern region. After state media issued a report on Saturday, officials in Seoul and Washington immediately welcomed the announcement. Trump personally responded on Twitter that it was “good news” and that he looked forward to his summit with Kim.

Many expect Trump will urge Kim to act quickly to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear arsenal during their meeting. Citing White House sources, the Wall Street Journal reported that the president is unwilling to give North Korea any substantial relief from sanctions just because the regime decides to freeze tests. In declaring that he will not repeat the mistakes of past governments, Trump “means the U.S. will not be making substantial concessions, such as lifting sanctions, until North Korea has substantially dismantled its nuclear programs,” a senior White House official told the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

The pace of North Korea’s nuclear dismantlement and timeline for sanctions relief are expected to be major issues in the Trump-Kim summit, but the White House source indicated that “the sky is the limit” should North Korea be willing to move quickly to denuclearize and that “all sorts of good things” can come about if it does.

At a meeting with senior aides in the Blue House on Monday, President Moon said, “North Korea’s measures toward a nuclear freeze are an important decision toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. It sends a green light raising the chances of success of the inter-Korean and North-U.S. summits.”

He expressed optimism about the North’s intention to suspend nuclear and missile tests and close a nuclear test site, which he welcomed as “actions showing North Korea’s sincerity ahead of the inter-Korean and North-U.S. summits.”

“If North Korea, from the starting point of a nuclear freeze, takes the path of complete dismantlement of its nuclear program, a bright future for North Korea will be guaranteed,” Moon said, echoing words that have been used by Trump administration officials. Moon said he looked forward to North Korea’s actions “speeding along” this process.

Lee Do-hoon, South Korea’s top nuclear negotiator, met with his Japanese counterpart, Kenji Kanasugi, in Seoul to discuss the issue on Monday.

Susan Thornton, the acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, has been in Seoul since Sunday for a three-day visit to meet with South Korean officials ahead of the inter-Korean summit on Friday.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]