US President Donald Trump said on Saturday (US time) that his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un remains “very good,” conveying his hopes of drawing Kim back to the negotiation table.
His remarks come amid a stalemate between the two countries following the breakdown of the two leaders’ second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, in late February. The deal breakers concerned denuclearization and economic sanctions.
“We’re getting along with North Korea. We’ll see how it works out, but we have a good relationship. Don’t forget, I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un,” Trump said during a speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2019 spring leadership meeting in Las Vegas.
In the speech, Trump said the North was “setting rockets and nuclear explosions” when he took office in 2017.
“A lot of things were happening,” he said. “We had to walk from one deal,” Trump said, referring to the Feb. 27-28 summit in Hanoi.
“We will see what happens. I hope we are going to be able to do something. Maybe, maybe not, but I hope we’re going to be able.”
Pundits say the US president’s remarks are intended to pressure Kim to take the “big deal” that was offered in Hanoi.
After their summit ended without an agreement, media reports revealed that the US had delivered a draft of an agreement demanding that Pyongyang transfer all its nuclear weapons and nuclear materials to the US.
According to Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday, the draft agreement consisted of five main points — two demands for the communist regime and three compensatory items.
In the document, the US defined denuclearization for the North as shipping out all its nuclear weapons and dismantling all related facilities, according to the Japanese daily, which cited as its sources officials from the US, South Korea and Japan.
The US draft sought to ban all future nuclear activities by Pyongyang and to conduct inspections to verify its nuclear disarmament process. There was also a plan to excavate the remains of US soldiers in North Korea.
In return, Washington reportedly offered to declare an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War — which came to a halt with only an armistice — and to establish joint liaison offices and provide economic support to the communist regime.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is “confident” that there will be a third summit between Trump and Kim, though he did not provide a clear date or a location.
In a televised interview with “CBS This Morning,” based in the US, Pompeo also said the Trump administration is “convinced” that Pyongyang is “determined as well” to achieve denuclearization.
Pompeo noted, however, that the administration remains “incredibly clear” that economic sanctions on the North “will not be lifted until our ultimate objective is achieved.”
Since the February summit, Pyongyang has expressed dissatisfaction toward Washington via its state news agency and its Foreign Ministry.
With Pyongyang’s Supreme People’s Assembly due to hold its first meeting on Thursday since a recent election, eyes are on whether the North Korean leader will mention denuclearization talks in his policy speech.
Pompeo said the US side will “closely watch” to see what Kim says, but that it does not expect any great surprises.
The North’s parliamentary session will coincide with the summit expected to take place in Washington between Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.