About the Author
Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
U.S. President Donald Trump indicated during a press conference in Washington D.C. on Wednesday that he is aiming to conduct a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in early 2019.
Speaking mainly about the U.S. midterm elections, which closed on the same day, Trump briefly responded to questions on the DPRK, and conveyed his satisfaction at negotiations despite a lack of progress since his first summit with Kim in Singapore on June 12.
“We are very happy with how it’s going with North Korea, we think it’s going fine, we are in no rush, we are in no hurry, the sanctions are on,” Trump told assembled reporters.
“Sometime, next year I would say, sometime early next year,” he then said with regards to the second summit and meeting with Kim.
While Kim was initially expected to meet for a second time with Trump in 2018 it was previously indicated by National Security Advisor John Bolton in October that next year would be more likely.
Trump’s comments come on the same day that the U.S. State Department’s surprise announcement regarding the postponement of high-level talks between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean official Kim Yong Chol scheduled for Thursday.
While no explanation was given for the postponement, Trump also added on Wednesday that the meeting would be rescheduled and would not give specific reasons for the postponement.
“We are going to change it because of trips that are being made… we are going to make it on another date,” he said.
North Korea and the U.S. appear to be at a significant impasse regarding the sequencing of actions as they relate to denuclearization and better bilateral relations.
North Korea is insisting that sanctions are an impediment to diplomacy and must be removed as a mechanism to build trust between the two countries, while the U.S. is maintaining that sanctions will remain until the DPRK denuclearizes.
On Friday, North Korean state media went as far as publishing an article threatening to return to overt nuclear development if the U.S. did not change its stance. Trump also addressed this issue very briefly during the press conference.
“I would love to take the sanctions off but they (North Korea) have to be responsive too, its a two-way street, but we are not in any rush,” the President said on Wednesday.
Wednesday also saw a Russian Presidential aide indicate to local press that the Kremlin is hoping North Korea’s leader will visit the country in 2019.
While Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov was unable to outright confirm a visit would not take place this year, his comments appeared to suggest that this would now be unlikely.
“I hope that next year this visit will be possible,” the decorated former Ambassador to the U.S. was quoted as saying by Russian news agency TASS.
So far this year, Kim has held multiple summits with Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in as well as the summit with Trump in Singapore.
Speculation on whether or not Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin would meet has also continued, with Moon also saying in October – following his third meeting with Kim – that he expected such a meeting would happen in Russia “in the near future.”
Subsequent Russian press reports – citing South Korean diplomatic sources – claimed that the visit could take place in November, while Moscow and Vladivostok were named as potential locations.
But some of the reports are now confirmed to be incorrect considering speculation that the summit could be help prior to U.S. midterm elections, which closed on Wednesday.
The proposed summit would be the first between President Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, the first Russia-North Korean summit since 2011, and the third since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Featured image: White House