- President Donald Trump is optimistic about potential talks between the US and North Korea.
- On Twitter, Trump said he believes North Korea will honor their commitment to halt missile launches during potential denuclearization negotiations.
- He later pivoted to a familiar strategy, blaming the media for its coverage of the events.
- The meeting is not yet confirmed, but Trump said his administration is currently planning the details.
President Donald Trump said he believes North Korea will keep its word and refrain from launching missiles during potential bilateral US-North Korean negotiations over the latter’s nuclear weapons program.
“North Korea has not conducted a Missile Test since November 28, 2017 and has promised not to do so through our meetings,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “I believe they will honor that commitment!”
In two other tweets, Trump said he recently spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping, both of whom were reportedly enthusiastic about the impending talks.
“President XI told me he appreciates that the U.S. is working to solve the problem diplomatically rather than going with the ominous alternative,” Trump said. “China continues to be helpful!”
But hours later, Trump, using his signature phrase, began directing criticism against the media for its coverage of the developments.
“In the first hours after hearing that North Korea’s leader wanted to meet with me to talk denuclearization and that missile launches will end, the press was startled & amazed,” Trump tweeted. “They couldn’t believe it. But by the following morning the news became FAKE. They said so what, who cares!”
- REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
On Thursday, South Korean National Security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, made the surprise announcement that Kim Jong Un was committed to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula and expressed a willingness to meet Trump as soon as possible, a meeting that Trump reportedly accepted without hesitation.
The news took many by surprise, including South Korea and Japan. The South Korean envoy at the White House phoned South Korean President Moon Jae-in about Trump’s decision, while Japanese officials received no warning on the quick development.
While Trump has been optimistic about the potential meeting, the logistics of the talks are still being worked out.
The meeting would only take place “on the basis that we have concrete and verifiable steps” toward the denuclearization of North Korea, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a briefing Friday.
Trump’s optimism could also be overshadowed by North Korea’s propensity to circumvent existing agreements. In 2012, the regime launched a long-range rocket that “deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit,” according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command. While North Korea insisted the purpose of the launch was to put a scientific satellite into space, the US and South Korea suspected it to be a cover for testing its ballistic missile technology.
The denuclearization of North Korea has been one of Trump’s top foreign policy priorities. In the last year, the US has slapped crippling economic sanctions on the country, which reportedly caused North Korean exports to decline by as much as 30% in 2017.
Last month during the Winter Olympics in South Korea, the Trump administration hit North Korea with additional sanctions aimed at blockading illegal shipping vessels transporting outlawed goods to and from the country. Trump described the sanctions as the “heaviest” ever imposed by the US on North Korea.