The art of the deal…
President Trump on Tuesday said that North and South Korea have his “blessing” as the two countries plan to meet to discuss a potential end to their decades-long war.
“South Korea is meeting and has plans to meet with North Korea to see if they can end the war and they have my blessing on that,” Trump told reporters in Palm Beach, Fla., alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “They do have my blessing to discuss the end of the war.”
Trump’s comments came amid reports
that officials from both Koreas are in discussion to announce an end to their military conflict at a summit meeting next week between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The president claimed credit for the development, saying Kim and Moon would not be discussing peace “without us and without me, in particular.”
If it were to happen, the announcement would be a watershed moment. The countries have technically been at war since 1950. North and South Korea signed an armistice agreement in 1953 but never agreed to end the war.
The countries are divided by a demilitarized buffer zone, which has been the scene of violent tensions in the ensuing years.
The Korean summit could set the stage for a possible meeting between Trump and Kim as early as next month to discuss their nuclear standoff.
Trump said the meeting could take place “probably in early June or before that” but also raised the possibility it will not happen at all.
“It’s possible things won’t go well and we won’t have the meetings and we’ll just continue to go along this very strong path we’re taking,” he said.
Abe is anxious over Trump’s decision to meet with Kim and has made it clear he wants any agreement to ensure Japanese security.
He is expected to bring up those concerns with Trump during their two-day meeting at the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.
The two leaders are also expected to discuss trade tensions and play a round of golf at one of Trump’s courses in the area. – The Hill
North Korean and U.S. officials have also been holding talks in preparation for their leaders’ meeting, during which U.S. officials have said the North reaffirmed a willingness to discuss denuclearization. But it is still unclear what Kim would seek in return for abandoning nuclear arms, and whether those demands would be acceptable to Washington.
When Kim met with President Xi Jinping of China late last month, he called for a “phased” and “synchronized” implementation of any denuclearization deal. Under such an approach, which North Korea has sought in past talks about its nuclear programs, the North would dismantle its program in stages, with each met by an incentive like an easing of international sanctions.
Some American hard-liners reject such an approach, saying that the North has no real intention of giving up nuclear weapons and is only seeking relief from sanctions. John R. Bolton made that argument before Trump chose him last month as national security adviser.
According to South Korean officials and analysts, Moon hopes for a “comprehensive deal,” in which Kim commits to dismantling his nuclear arsenal and Trump reciprocates with security guarantees for the North, including normalized ties and a peace treaty with Washington.
“When our special envoys visited Pyongyang, the mood was not bad, and we understand that the North Koreans and the Americans are both engaged in sincere discussions, so we are optimistic about the inter-Korean summit,” Im said. “But we could face obstacles any time.” –WRAL