Nuclear deal with North Korea possible, says Trump

Nuclear deal with North Korea possible, says Trump
'We have a very good relationship. He likes me, I like him, we get along,' Trump said, regarding North Korea's President Kim Jong Un.
3 min read
27 September, 2018
Trump says he 'likes' North Korean President Kim Jong Un [Getty]

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his work to settle a nuclear deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he has given up nothing but his time during a June summit, yet stands on the cusp of denuclearising the North.

In a wide-ranging news conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Trump told reporters that despite tough US sanctions against North Korea staying in place, he believes that Kim wants to get a deal done because of their close ties.

"We have a very good relationship. He likes me, I like him, we get along," Trump said. "He wants to make a deal and I'd like to make a deal."

He wouldn't put a timeframe, however, on when the two leaders might settle the standoff. "We're not playing the time game," he said.

It has lasted for decades, flummoxed a long line of US and South Korean presidents and had many fearing war last year during a series of increasingly powerful North Korean weapons tests that experts believe put the country close to a long-time goal of viably targeting any spot on the US mainland.

Trump and his top diplomat, Mike Pompeo, are trying to get past the deadlock that has followed the Singapore summit. Pompeo is planning to visit Pyongyang next month to prepare for a second Kim-Trump summit. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday also said separately that he wants to meet with Kim, though no details had been decided on yet.

Trump's optimistic comments come amid widespread skepticism that Kim will actually relinquish an arsenal that Pyongyang likely sees as the only way to guarantee the Kim dynasty's continued authoritarian rule.

"We have crossed the barriers of division and are tearing down the walls in our heart - South Korean President Moon Jae-in

Although Trump maintained that he'd given up nothing in his dealings with Kim, he has faced criticism for his decision during the Singapore summit to scrap annual US military drills with ally South Korea. Critics called it a concession for the North, which has long railed against the drills as invasion preparation and proof of US hostility.

Trump said on Wednesday that he'd long wanted to stop the drills, which had always been portrayed by the allies as defensive in nature, because of their high cost and said he could restart them if needed. "For the taxpayer, we're saving a fortune," Trump said.

Trump also made the stunning claim that former President Barack Obama told him that he was "very close" to going to war with the North.

"If I wasn't elected," Trump said, "you'd be in a war."

The State Department said Pompeo was invited by Kim to Pyongyang, the North's capital, "to make further progress on the implementation" of agreements made during the Singapore summit and to set up another leaders' meeting.

Pompeo met earlier with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York on Wednesday, after which he said on Twitter that his meeting with Ri was "very positive." There were no details immediately available about what the diplomats discussed.

"Much work remains, but we will continue to move forward," Pompeo said.

Also at the UN session, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said high-level diplomacy has "removed the shadow of war" that hung over the Korean Peninsula last year as Kim and Trump threatened each other with destruction during the run of North Korean weapons tests.

"Over the past year, something miraculous has taken place on the Korean Peninsula," Moon said in an address to world leaders. "We have crossed the barriers of division and are tearing down the walls in our heart."