Trump Says ‘Things Are Going Very Well’ With North Korea

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump said on Jan. 19 that “things are going very well with North Korea” and that he plans to hold a second summit with leader Kim Jong Un to continue discussions on denuclearization.

“We’ve agreed to meet sometime probably the end of February. We’ve picked a country, but we’ll be announcing it in the future. Kim Jong Un is looking very forward to it and so am I,” the president told reporters at the White House.

The initial news of a second meeting with the reclusive North Korean leader came after Trump’s 90-minute session Jan. 18 in the Oval Office with a North Korean envoy, Kim Yong Chol, who traveled to Washington to discuss denuclearization talks.

“We have made a lot of progress as far as denuclearization is concerned and we’re talking about a lot of different things,” Trump said, adding it’s “not been reported, unfortunately, but it will be. Things are going very with North Korea.”

South Korea’s conservative news outlet Chosun reported that North Korea’s state media chose not to report on Kim Yong Chol’s U.S. trip.

In May, North Korea released three American detainees and sent them home with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after his meeting with the North Korean leader in Pyongyang.

The second summit signals stepped-up efforts by both countries to continue talks. Trump has exchanged letters with the North Korean leader amid a stall in tangible progress on the denuclearization agreement that was reached at the first meeting last June in Singapore. Kim’s recent trips to China hint at communist China’s influence in the denuclearization process. Kim’s latest trip to China, his fourth since last year, came as China encouraged negotiations with the United States but argued in favor of an immediate easing of sanctions.

Trump has spoken several times of having a second summit early this year. Vietnam has been considered as a possible summit venue, along with Thailand, Hawaii, and Singapore.

Pompeo in NK
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) and Kim Yong Chol, a North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief, walk from a photo opportunity at The Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, on Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Since the Singapore talks, several private analysts have published reports detailing continuing North Korean development of nuclear and missile technology. A planned meeting between Pompeo and the envoy, who is North Korea’s former spy chief, in New York last November was abruptly canceled. U.S. officials said at the time that North Korea had called off the session.

The special U.S. envoy for North Korea negotiations, Steve Biegun, planned to travel to Sweden for further talks over the weekend.

Harry Kazianis, a North Korea expert at the Center for National Interest, said any talks between the two nations are a positive development, but the hard work of negotiating an agreement has only begun.

South Korea said it expects the second summit between Trump and Kim to be “a turning point in firmly establishing a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

Kim expressed frustration in an annual New Year’s address over the lack of progress in negotiations. But on a visit to Beijing last week, he said North Korea would pursue a second summit “to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community,” according to China’s state mouthpiece, the Xinhua News Agency.

The United States and North Korea seemed close to war at points during 2017. The North staged a series of weapons tests that brought it closer to its nuclear goal of one day being able to target anywhere on the U.S. mainland.

By Matthew Lee and Deb Riechman

Watch next:

North Korean Defector Ji Seong-Ho: North Korea Was Bad, China Was Worse

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