WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump will meet for the second time with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un around the end of February, the White House said Friday, after a top general from Pyongyang paid a rare visit to Washington, reports AFP.
Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol, a right-hand man to the North Korean strongman, met the embattled president at the White House for an unusually long 90 minutes as the countries seek a denuclearization accord that could ease decades of hostility.White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that Trump—who has opined that he and Kim Jong Un fell “in love” after last year’s landmark first summit—would again meet the North Korean leader “near the end of February” at a location to be announced later.
The flurry of diplomacy comes little more than a year after Trump was threatening to wipe North Korea off the map, with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests rattling nerves in East Asia. Sanders praised North Korea’s efforts to reconcile but ruled out, for now, a key demand of Pyongyang—a lifting of sanctions.
“The United States is going to continue to keep pressure and sanctions on North Korea until we see fully and verified denuclearization,” Sanders told reporters. “We’ve had very good steps in good faith from the North Koreans in releasing the hostages and other moves and so we’ll continue those conversations,” she said.
She was referring to Pyongyang’s quick deportation last year of an American. In 2017, a US student returned home comatose from North Korea and died within days after what a US judge said was torture.
Kim Jong Un and Trump first met in June in Singapore, where they signed a vaguely worded document in which Kim pledged to work toward the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” But progress stalled soon afterward as Pyongyang and Washington—which stations 28,500 troops in South Korea—disagree over what that means.
Critics say that the Singapore summit was little more than a photo-op. The second round with the young and elusive North Korean leader will again offer a change of headlines for Trump amid a barrage of scandalous allegations and a political deadlock that has shut down the US government.“Let’s hope the second summit produces real results, but don’t hold your breath as we wait for episode two of the Trump-Kim show,” said Michael Fuchs, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress who worked closely with former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Abe Denmark, director of the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said the Singapore summit had thrown into question the security of US allies with little in return.
Meanwhile, the planned second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un needs to make tangible progress on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons if it is to avoid being dismissed as “reality TV”, analysts say.
Their summit in Singapore in June was undoubtedly historic, the first ever encounter between the leaders of two nations whose forces—backed by arrays of allies from each side of the Cold War—fought each other to a standstill decades ago.
The world’s media were transfixed as the pair shook hands on the verandah of a historic hotel and strolled together in its grounds, before Trump held an hour-long press conference extraordinary even by his own unique standards. But the agreement they signed was long on rhetoric and short on details, with Kim pledging to work towards the “denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.
On the other hand, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday urged the United States and North Korea to agree on a roadmap for serious negotiations on scrapping Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic weapons.
“We believe it’s high time to make sure that the negotiations between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea start again seriously and that a roadmap is clearly defined for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Guterres told a news conference.