With days to go before U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are due to sit down opposite each other in Singapore, it appears that much of what they will talk about and any potential agreement is still to be decided.
During a White House news conference on Thursday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump repeatedly talked about what could happen “if” things go well.
With such high-level meetings, diplomats typically do much of the ground work so leaders can be sure of a successful meeting, but it seems that’s not the case this time.
The meeting will take place on Tuesday next week, and Trump said he expects it won’t be a one-time thing.
“I think it’s a process. I’ve told you that many times before. I think it’s not a one meeting deal. It would be wonderful if it were, you know,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office ahead of a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “I’d love to say it could happen in one deal, maybe it can.”
Trump appears to be using somewhat of a carrot and stick approach going into the meeting, talking about the great things that could happen for North Korea is an agreement is reached to denuclearize, and also some of what might happen if the two sides cannot.
At a news conference, he held out the possibility of normalizing relations — something that would be a huge step towards the DPRK becoming a regular member of the international community — should an agreement be reached and completed, and said that he might invite Kim Jong Un to the White House.
But he also warned of what might happen if the summit is unsuccessful.
“They have to denuke. If they don’t denuclearize, that will not be acceptable. We cannot take sanctions off. The sanctions are extraordinarily powerful, we cannot – and I could add a lot more, but I don’t, I’ve chosen not to do that at this time. But that may happen,” he said.
Later, Trump added that the U.S. had a list of at least 300 additional sanctions it is prepared to put on North Korea should the talks fail.
During the meeting with Trump, Abe pushed on the issue of Japanese abductees. Japan has been pushed towards the sidelines in the frenetic diplomacy of the last few weeks, the the meeting served as a chance to Abe to lobby Trump to bring up these issues.
“I think President Trump fully understands the situation, he supports the position of Japan,” Abe said at a news conference.
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