Donald Trump hails North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as ‘honourable’ but tempers summit expectations
Mr Trump said North Korea would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the US. (Reuters: KCNA/AP: Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump says North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been “very honourable” and discussions on a planned summit are going well, but tempered expectations for any quick denuclearisation deal by saying “it may be we’re all wasting a lot of time”.
- The US is pressing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons
- Mr Trump says the campaign of maximum pressure will continue
- He says he will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations by relaxing sanctions too early
Mr Trump told reporters during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House that North Korea had said it wanted to hold the summit “as soon as possible”.
“We think that’s a great thing for the world,” he said.
“We’re having … very good discussions.
“Kim Jong-un, he really has been very open and I think very honourable from everything we’re seeing.”
Mr Trump has said he could meet with Mr Kim in late May or June.
The United States is pressing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and says it will keep up a policy of “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang through sanctions to achieve this goal.
Mr Trump said he hoped dealings with North Korea would be positive, but he wanted to see the country’s complete denuclearisation.
Asked at a news conference, what he meant by this, he replied: “It means they get rid of their nukes.”
“Very simple … it would be very easy for me to make a simple deal and claim victory.
“I don’t want to do that. I want them to get rid of their nukes.”
Mr Trump said he would not repeat the mistakes of past administrations, which his aides have accused of relaxing sanctions too early in pursuit of deals with North Korea.
“The campaign of maximum pressure will continue,” Mr Trump said.
“The end result is, we’ll see. Maybe good things will happen; it may be we’re all wasting a lot of time, but hopefully it will all be good for everybody concerned.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is due to meet Mr Kim in a summit on Friday, said last week that North Korea had expressed a commitment to “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula, and Pyongyang said on Saturday it would immediately suspend nuclear and missile tests.
This has eased concerns that North Korea could quickly complete development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States.
However, many experts have expressed doubt that Mr Kim will be willing to abandon a weapons program he sees as essential to the survival of his ruling family dynasty.
Mr Trump has faced some criticism for quickly agreeing to become the first serving US President ever to meet a North Korea leader, but he said he had made no concessions.
“Despite some of the media saying that I have made concessions, I haven’t even discussed a concession, other than the fact that meeting is a great thing,” he said.