Washington, Michigan – US President Donald Trump said on Saturday a meeting with North Korea could happen over the next three to four weeks.
“I think we will have a meeting over the next three or four weeks,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Washington, Michigan. “It’s going be a very important meeting, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke on Saturday with his South Korean counterpart Defense Minister Song Young-moo and said they were committed to “a diplomatic resolution that achieves complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” of the North, according to the Pentagon’s chief spokeswoman, Dana W. White. Mattis also reaffirmed “the ironclad US commitment” to defend its ally “using the full spectrum of US capabilities.”
Trump tweeted Saturday that he had “a long and very good talk” with President Moon Jae-in. He also said he updated Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, about “the ongoing negotiations” for an anticipated summit with Kim, tentatively scheduled for May or early June.
Moon and Kim have pledged to seek a formal end to the Korean War, fought from 1950 to 1953, by year’s end and to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons. Trump has said he’s looking forward to the meeting with Kim and that it “should be quite something.”
“Things are going very well, time and location of meeting with North Korea is being set,” Trump tweeted. A statement from the White House describing the call between Trump and Moon also referred to the North’s future being contingent upon “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.”
Trump is claiming credit for the Korean summit, but now faces a burden in helping turn the Korean leaders’ bold but vague vision for peace into reality after more than six decades of hostility.
Trump must contend with suspicions about his own suitability to conduct that kind of war-and-peace negotiation and succeed where his predecessors have failed, and whether Kim really is willing to give up the nuclear weapons his nation took decades acquiring.
At a White House news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, Trump basked in the afterglow of the meeting between Kim and Moon, and said he has a responsibility to try to achieve peace and denuclearization.
“And if I can’t do it, it’ll be a very tough time for a lot of countries, and a lot of people. It’s certainly something that I hope I can do for the world,” he said.
The president pushed back against critics who say he’s being manipulated by Kim, who has abruptly shifted to diplomacy after last year’s full-scale push to become a nuclear power that could threaten the US mainland.