Published: Sat, June 02, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Trump meets North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol at White House

Trump meets North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol at White House

US President Donald Trump said Friday he will meet North Korea's Kim Jong Un as originally scheduled on June 12 for a historic summit after extraordinary Oval Office talks with a top envoy from Pyongyang.

"It'll be a beginning", Trump told reporters on the South Lawn, adding, "I think we're going to have a very positive result in the end".

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in Louisville warned Trump to be dispassionate about North Korea. Trump left Friday afternoon for a weekend at Camp David.

In the short term, Moscow "cannot afford to be remembered as the country that had no hat in the ring leading up to June 12", he said.

"Frankly, I said, 'Take your time, '" Trump said.

Trump indicated that the campaign of "maximum pressure" was at least on hold, vowing no new sanctions while talks are ongoing.

"We talked about nearly everything".

Early Thursday, Trump told reporters "we are doing very well" with North Korea. "Remember what I say: We will see what we will see".

Trump emerged after a more than hour-long Oval Office meeting with Kim Yong Chol - a general facing U.S. sanctions who is Kim's right-hand man - saying that the summit will go ahead in Singapore on June 12 as originally planned. The two men posed with the very large envelope in the Oval Office.

Later Friday, deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley confirmed that Trump had read the letter, but he did not reveal its contents.

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White House and State Department officials repeatedly declined to comment on the advance team planning, keeping those discussions more opaque than the substance of the negotiations.

Trump cited increasingly bellicose statements from the North - and ignored messages about summit logistics - when he announced he was backing out of the summit in a strongly worded letter. "I purposely didn't open the letter", Trump said. North Korea's conciliatory response to that letter appears to have put the summit back on track. However, his comments were the most positive from any US official since Trump abruptly canceled the meeting last week after belligerent statements from the North. Who's going to pay for Kim Jong Un's hotel stay? He is the most senior North Korean to visit in 18 years, a symbolic sign of easing tensions after fears of war escalated amid North Korean nuclear and missile tests last year.

Some analysts suggest the video is part of an effort by North Korea to show its willingness to negotiate its nuclear weapons policy.

Itsunori Onodera said North Korea agreed to give up nuclear weapons as early as 1994, but has continued to develop them in secret and until past year threatened surrounding countries with a series of ballistic missile launches. Despite Kim's apparent eagerness for a summit with Trump, there are many doubts that he would fully relinquish his nuclear arsenal, which he may see as his guarantee of survival.

USA defense and intelligence officials have repeatedly assessed the North to be on the threshold of having the capability to strike anywhere in the continental US with a nuclear-tipped missile - a capacity that Trump and other US officials have said they would not tolerate.

Trump has promised that he will provide "protections" for Kim and his government in return for giving up the nuclear program.

The meeting followed two landmark summits between the leaders of North and South Korea in the last five weeks.

Kim Yong Chol was spotted leaving his hotel in New York City early Friday for the trip to Washington in a convoy of SUVs.

On Thursday, after talks with Kim Yong-chol in NY, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed confidence that the process was moving in the right direction, but warned that the North's young leader must be bold enough to make a "strategic shift" in understanding that he will be safer without nuclear weapons.

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