U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore for what will be the first-ever summit between the two countries.
“The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th,” Trump said in a Twitter post. “We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!”
The announcement came hours after three U.S. citizens detained in North Korea returned home, a diplomatic outcome that cleared a major hurdle for the meeting in which Trump and Kim will discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Asked by reporters if the return of the Americans is his proudest achievement, Trump said, “My proudest achievement will be — this is part of it — but will be when we denuclearize that entire peninsula.”
Trump expressed optimism about his engagement with Kim. Asked why Kim freed the detainees now, Trump said, “I really think he wants to do something and bring that country into the real world.”
“I think this will be a very big success,” he said, without elaborating.
The unprecedented summit comes after Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In pledged during their meeting on April 27 to work for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.
In the upcoming meeting, analysts are watching whether Trump and Kim will agree on concrete measures with a time frame to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Japan is paying close attention to whether North Korea will take credible action toward a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization and remove all missiles including shorter-range missiles capable of hitting Japan.
Along with the nuclear and missile issue, Trump has promised to push Kim to address the North’s abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, an issue Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sees as a top priority for his government.
On Wednesday, Trump ruled out the truce village of Panmunjeom in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea as the venue of a summit with Kim, leaving Singapore as the likely host.
Trump had said that besides Panmunjeom, he was considering holding the summit in a third-party country such as Singapore. The United States and North Korea have no diplomatic relations.
During talks with Moon at the Peace House on the southern side of Panmunjeom, Kim said he would abandon North Korea’s nuclear weapons if the United States agreed to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War and promised not to commit aggression against the country, according to South Korea’s presidential Blue House.
Kim was also quoted by a senior Blue House official as saying Pyongyang will dismantle its only known underground nuclear test site in May, and that North Korea is prepared to have talks with Japan.
Kim did not refer to the closure or abandonment of nuclear facilities other than the Punggye-ri site, where North Korea has carried out all of its six nuclear tests to date, starting in 2006 and continuing until the most recent and powerful one in September of last year.
Last month, North Korea announced it would suspend nuclear tests and test-launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles targeting the United States, as well as dismantle the Punggye-ri site.
The move, however, falls short of the demand by the United States, Japan, South Korea and other countries that Pyongyang abandon all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, including short- and medium-range missiles capable of hitting South Korea and Japan.
On April 27, Trump said he was “encouraged” by the Moon-Kim meeting, but insisted that Washington will maintain “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang in coordination with the international community to compel the North to take concrete actions toward denuclearization.
The U.S. leader pledged to continue diplomatic and military pressure as well as economic sanctions at the highest possible level until North Korea denuclearizes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible way.
Trump also said he will not be cheated by North Korea, as he criticized previous U.S. administrations for giving Pyongyang too many concessions despite the country not abandoning its nuclear weapon ambitions.