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Kim-Trump summit after Nov. 6

U.S. president claims ‘incredible progress’ over past three months
Oct 11,2018
U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will take place after the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 6, with several venues being discussed.

“It’ll be after the midterms,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One flying to Iowa for a rally about his second meeting with Kim. “I just can’t leave now.”

Earlier that day, Trump said in the White House Oval Office that “three or four different locations” are being discussed as the venue for the second North-U.S. summit, likely other than Singapore where the first summit was held, and that the “timing won’t be too far away.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a “very good meeting” with Kim in Pyongyang Sunday, said Trump, adding that “part of the reason” for his top diplomat’s trip to North Korea was for “setting that up.”

Washington, Pyongyang and the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom have been named as possible options for a second summit between Trump and Kim, and they were also mentioned ahead of the first summit. Both sides would generally prefer holding a meeting on their own soil.

But there is growing speculation that the North-U.S. summit could be held again in a third country, possibly a European city such as Vienna or Geneva, especially as Trump is scheduled after midterms to visit Paris for the Nov. 11 commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in World War I.

Furthermore, Trump’s remark on Air Force One that he couldn’t “leave now” suggests that the location of the summit may be outside the United States.

Trump avoided answering if the next summit will take place in the United States by responding, “I don’t want to embarrass anybody by asking.”

He called it a “two-way street,” pointing out, “I think eventually we’re going to have lots of meetings on U.S. soil and on their soil, by the way.”

Even his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida could be used to meet with Kim at some point, Trump pointed out, stating, “He’d probably like that. I’d like that, too.”

Trump also addressed concerns about delays in denuclearization talks since the June 12 summit held on Sentosa Island in Singapore and said, “I think the speed is amazing. You have no nuclear tests. You have no rockets. And we have a very good relationship with Chairman Kim, which is very important.”

Lamenting the negative media coverage of his North Korea negotiations, Trump said that there has been “incredible progress” over the past three months and stressed the “importance of the first meeting.”

He underscored, “Point number one; they’ve agreed to denuclearization. And they continue to agree.” In the meanwhile, Washington hasn’t removed its “very big sanctions” on the North, he added.

“I’d love to remove them, but we have to get something for doing that,” said Trump.

Trump pointed out that there are investors interested in North Korea, again projecting a vision of economic prosperity for the country in the future, and said, “I think that the country of North Korea is going to be a very successful country. I think it’s going to be incredibly economically successful.”

He went on to say that other countries, entrepreneurs and banks are “calling wanting to go there and wanting to invest” and that “at some point when Chairman Kim makes that decision, I think he’s going to unleash something that’s going to be spectacular.”

He cited this prospect as one of the reasons he is “having very successful conversations” with Kim, adding, “I think he wants to get on with it.”

Trump’s remarks came as he announced U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley will be stepping down from the position at the end of the year. As top U.S. diplomat in the United Nations, Haley has been behind three stringent sanctions packages in the UN Security Council against the North since last year, giving teeth to Washington’s maximum pressure campaign.

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo said upon returning to Washington from his four-country East Asia trip Tuesday, “We can now see a path where we will achieve [our] ultimate goal, which is the full and final verified denuclearization of North Korea.”

Heather Nauert, spokesperson of the U.S. State Department, said on Tuesday in a briefing that the White House will ultimately announce the timing of the Kim-Trump summit, adding, “There are a lot of details that are involved in pulling together a summit of that magnitude.”

She continued, “We need to find a place that both countries can get to. We have to compare schedules.” Parties involved would include not only President Trump, Kim, but also Pompeo and John Bolton, the U.S. national security adviser.

Infrastructure is another factor, she added, stating the venue would have to be able to “accommodate 5,000 journalists,” as at the Singapore summit. Nauert added that Washington is “pleased” that Kim Jong-un invited international inspectors into its Punggye-ri n nuclear test site, supposedly demolished in late May, “to confirm that it’s been irreversibly dismantled.”

Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea who traveled to Pyongyang with Pompeo last weekend, “looks forward to having follow-on conversations with his counterpart,” added Nauert, “to start intensifying discussions on some of those four pillars that were laid out in the Singapore summit.”

His counterpart is seen to be North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, who held a closed-door trilateral meeting with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov in Moscow Tuesday. North Korea could have discussed a second North-U.S. summit with its traditional allies and sought their support in future easing of UN Security Council sanctions.

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