The Korea Times – Hankook Ilbo
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said Thursday he remains committed to the denuclearization of his country, saying that otherwise he wouldn’t be having talks with U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi.
Speaking to a pool reporter at the start of an expanded meeting involving top officials of the two sides following one-on-one talks with Trump, Kim also said that they were talking about concrete denuclearization measures.
“If I weren’t willing to do that, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Kim said in response to a question whether he’s ready to denuclearize. Asked again if he’s willing to take concrete denuclearization steps, Kim said, “That is what we are discussing right now.”
Kim also said he would welcome the opening of a U.S. liaison office in Pyongyang.
“I think it is something that is worth welcoming,” he said, indicating the issue will be included in their much-anticipated Hanoi declaration to sum up the results of their two-day summit here.
As the reporter asked Kim whether he’s talking about human rights with Trump, the president stepped in and said, “We are discussing everything. We’re having very, very productive discussions.”
Earlier, the two leaders kicked off the Thursday session with a half-hour private talk at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi and took a brief stroll in the courtyard of the hotel before they were joined by top aides for minuteslong conversations: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol, a senior Workers’ Party official.
Kim vowed utmost efforts for a successful summit.
“Let me assure you I will do my best to bring a good result ultimately today,” Kim said. “I wouldn’t say that I’m pessimistic. I do have a feeling that good results will come out.”
On the other hand, Trump effectively sought to lower public expectations on summit results, reiterating that he does not care about the pace of the denuclearization process.
“Speed is not that important to me … I am in no rush,” he said, thanking Kim for suspending his country’s nuclear and missile testing.
He instead emphasized his good relationship with the young North Korean leader, which he said heralds “a lot of good things” to happen.
The former businessman cited North Korea’s incomparable economic potential when it becomes free from sanctions after denuclearization.
After holding a working lunch, Kim and Trump plan to sign a joint statement around 2 p.m., according to the White House.
Kim may be seeking to trade the shutdown or dismantlement of the Soviet-era Yongbyon nuclear complex for Trump’s declaration of a symbolic end to the 1950-53 Korean War and some sanctions relief if possible.
With regard to the possibility of an end-of-war declaration, Trump said Wednesday, “We’ll see.”
The North’s state media reported that the leaders are eyeing a “comprehensive and epoch-making” accord.
“Sincere and deep opinions were exchanged with a view to making comprehensive and epoch-making results in the talks in order to meet the interest and expectation of the whole world for the successful Hanoi summit,” the Korean Central News Agency said, referring to their first-day meeting that lasted around two hours and 20 minutes.
Trump also plans to brief reporters in person on the outcome of this week’s bargaining with Kim before heading back to Washington on Thursday evening. (Yonhap)