On Eve of Summit, White House Optimistic, Resolute
SINGAPORE—After three months of preparations, negotiations, and stops and starts, the big day is almost upon us. President Donald Trump will meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on June 12 to forge a relationship that he hopes will lead to a new era on the Korean Peninsula.
“As the president said on Saturday, this is truly a mission of peace,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Singapore on June 11.
“The fact that our two leaders are sitting down, face to face, is a sign of the enormous potential to accomplish something that will immensely benefit both of our peoples and the entire world.
“President Trump believes that Kim Jong Un has an unprecedented opportunity to change the trajectory of our relationship and bring peace and prosperity to his country.”
Trump has kept in close contact with allies in the region, calling both the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in the day before the summit.
Pompeo said the ultimate objective of complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula has not changed.
“Sanctions will remain until North Korea completely, verifiably eliminates its weapons of mass destruction programs,” Pompeo said, adding that if talks break down, more sanctions will be added.
Pompeo said Trump’s approach is “fundamentally different” from past attempts to engage North Korea, and the context of the discussions are “radically different than ever before.”
North Korea will be looking for security assurances if it agrees to denuclearization, and Pompeo said the United States is willing to comply.
“We’re prepared to take actions that will provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearization isn’t something that ends badly for them,” he said. “Indeed just the opposite—that it leads to a brighter, better future for the North Korean people.”
He refused to go into any detail, but Pompeo said the United States is prepared to take security assurances that are different than what America previously had been willing to provide.
Trump is also willing to expand access to foreign investment in North Korea and other economic opportunities, Pompeo said.
“In each of those two countries there are only two people that can make decisions of this magnitude, and those two people are going to be sitting in a room together tomorrow,” he said.
North Korea’s state-run media has traditionally been hostile toward the United States. However, a report on the day before the summit suggested a desire for a relationship.
“With the attention and expectations of the entire world, the United States and the DPRK Summit for the first time in history has focused on issues of common concern,” state-run media Rodong said, “including the establishment of new relations between the DPRK and the U.S. in accordance with different era requirements, the exchange of opinions on the establishment of a permanent and consolidated peace system on the Korean Peninsula, and the realization of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, etc.”
Robert Palladino, director for press for the National Security Council, told reporters in Singapore that “we should take some optimism” from the report.
The summit will begin at 9 a.m. Singapore time on June 12 on Sentosa Island.
Following the initial greeting, Trump and Kim will participate in a one-on-one meeting, with translators only, an expanded bilateral meeting, and a working lunch, the White House said in a statement.
Trump will speak to media after the summit and plans to depart Singapore at around 8 p.m. local time.
The White House said discussions between the United States and North Korea are ongoing and have moved quicker than expected.