Trump expects second Kim meeting in ‘not-too-distant future’

A South Korean newspaper deliveryman collects newspapers in Seoul reporting the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12, 2018. (File/AFP)
Updated 03 January 2019

Trump expects second Kim meeting in ‘not-too-distant future’

  • Trump said he had watched coverage of Kim’s New Year speech on the US Public Broadcasting Service
  • Kim vowed to work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula when he met Trump for the first time at a summit in Singapore in June

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he had received a “great” letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and would probably meet him again in the not-too-distant future as part of efforts to persuade him to give up his nuclear weapons.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump defended stuttering US negotiations with Kim, saying that if it had not been for his administration “you’d be having a nice big fat war in Asia.” He reiterated that there was no hurry.
“I’m not in any rush. I don’t have to rush. All I know is there’s no rockets, there’s no testing,” he said, referring to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests that have been halted since the second half of 2017.
Trump said he had watched coverage of Kim’s New Year speech on the US Public Broadcasting Service.
“They said that in Chairman Kim’s speech he really wants to get together, he wants to denuclearize and a lot of good things are happening,” Trump said.
“They really do want to do something. Now, does that mean it’s going to be done? Who knows? A deal’s a deal, you never know, but I tell you, we’ve established a very good relationship with North Korea.”
“We’ll probably now have another meeting. He’d like to meet, I’d like to meet,” Trump said. “We’ll set that up, we’ll be setting that up in the not-too-distant future.”
Kim vowed to work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula when he met Trump for the first time at a summit in Singapore in June, but there has been little concrete progress since.
Kim said in a nationally televised New Year address on Tuesday that he was ready to meet again with Trump anytime, but warned he may take a “new path” if US sanctions and pressure continued.
Trump, who in 2017 threatened to rain “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea because of the threat its nuclear weapons and missiles posed to the United States, said a world war had been averted.
“That was going to be a war — there could have been a World War Three to be honest with you ... And instead, we have somebody who I really think wants to get on to economic development and making a lot of success and money, frankly, for his country.”
Trump said North Korea had “tremendous” potential, and added: “We’ll help them out too.”
On Monday, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported that Kim had sent a message to Trump regarding the stalled nuclear talks. The report did not include details about the “letter-like” communication.
Trump told reporters on Wednesday the letter was “great” and that he would love to read it out loud, but did not do so.
Trump has said previously that a second summit with Kim was likely in January or February, though he wrote on Twitter last month he was “in no hurry.”
’Sinister intention’
In his address on Tuesday, Kim said denuclearization was his “firm will” and North Korea had “declared at home and abroad that we would neither make and test nuclear weapons any longer nor use and proliferate them.”
However, he warned that North Korea might be “compelled to explore a new path” to defend its sovereignty if the United States “seeks to force something upon us unilaterally ... and remains unchanged in its sanctions and pressure.”
In spite of Trump’s words, Kim’s comments have fueled doubts over whether North Korea intends to give up a nuclear weapons program it has long considered essential to its security.
Analysts said Kim’s message sent clear signals that North Korea, which has sought acceptance as a “responsible” nuclear power, was willing to stay in talks with Washington and Seoul this year — but on its own terms.
North Korea’s main state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary on Thursday last year saw “wonderful changes” and “great movements” in North Korea’s relations with the South Korea and the United States, but progress in inter-Korean relations were “locked up in stagnation” because of USpolicies.
“The US still remains unchanged in the policy hostile toward the DPRK,” the paper wrote, using the initials of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The paper accused the United States of having a “a sinister intention to deprive the DPRK of its nuclear weapons and bring it to its knees without goodwill to build a new, good relationship with the DPRK.”
“The US is urged to do what it should do for the improvement of the DPRK-US relations, not making useless admonition while meddling in the issue of north-south relations, an internal issue of the Korean nation,” it said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made several trips to Pyongyang last year but the two sides have yet to reschedule an abruptly canceled November meeting between him and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol aimed at paving the way for a second summit.
As well as demanding a lifting of sanctions, Pyongyang has been seeking an official end to the 1950-1953 Korean War in response to its initial, unilateral steps that have included dismantling its only known nuclear testing site and a missile engine facility.
US officials have said the extent of initial North Korean steps was not confirmed and could be easily reversed. Washington has halted some large-scale military exercises with South Korea to aid negotiations, but has called for strict global sanctions enforcement until North Korea’s full, verifiable denuclearization.


Lampedusa mayor slams Rome over migrant boat standoff

Updated 53 min 49 sec ago

Lampedusa mayor slams Rome over migrant boat standoff

  • “The island no longer exists politically. It is just exploited in political clashes in Rome.”

LAMPEDUSA, Italy: The mayor of Italy’s Lampedusa island on Thursday denounced the collapsing government for its failure to deal with migrant rescue boats, as a ship carrying 356 people remained stranded in the Mediterranean.
Mayor Salvatore Martello said the reception center on the tiny isle was already over capacity and would struggle to house migrants currently stuck aboard the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking.
The vessel, run by charities Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee, has sought a port for almost two weeks after rescuing four boats of migrants off the Libyan coast between 9 and 12 August.
“It would be difficult because the reception center is saturated,” Martello told AFP.
“The island no longer exists politically. It is just exploited in political clashes in Rome.”
Lampedusa has long been a magnet for African migrants fleeing poverty and conflict.
Thousands have attempted to make the unsafe crossing from Libya in a bid to reach Europe this year, despite efforts to deter them.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been accused of demonizing migrants and leaving them to drown in the sea.
He has repeatedly insisted that rescued migrants can only land in Italy if other EU countries take them in.
Italy’s president on Thursday was holding a second day of talks after the disintegration of the anti-immigrant coalition government, which broke down after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday.
The plight of the migrants aboard the Ocean Viking, which was denied entry by both Italy and Malta, is the latest in a string of migrant boat standoffs with Italian authorities.
The Open Arms rescue ship was allowed to land in Lampedusa on Wednesday, with 83 migrants disembarking, after Italian justice ordered they be brought ashore.
Many of them had spent 19 days on board the ship after being picked up while in difficulty in waters off Libya.
There were initially 147 mainly African migrants on the ship but all minors and some suffering health problems had already disembarked.
A European deal to redistribute them has yet to be implemented.