President Donald Trump meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-In in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Trump met with South Korean President Moon at the White House today. The purpose was to set a unified strategy for the planned June 12 summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un in Singapore. The mood though was somber and led one to believe that the summit may not take place on schedule.
President Trump said on Tuesday that his planned summit meeting next month with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, might be delayed.
“There’s a very substantial chance that it won’t work out,” Mr. Trump told reporters before a meeting in the Oval Office with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in. “It may not work out for June 12.”
Mr. Trump expressed continued enthusiasm for the diplomatic encounter, saying he believed it could usher in a period of prosperity for North Korea. But he acknowledged that recent statements by North Korea had cast a pall of uncertainty over the timing of the meeting, which is set for Singapore. He appeared as baffled as anyone else about what might come next.
“We’re moving along. We’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said. “There are certain conditions we want to happen. I think we’ll get those conditions. And if we don’t, we won’t have the meeting.
“If it doesn’t happen, maybe it will happen later,” he added. “Maybe it will happen at a different time. We will see. We are talking.”
The president said he detected a shift in Mr. Kim’s tone after the North Korean leader met for a second time with China’s president, Xi Jinping, several weeks ago. He suggested that Mr. Xi might be influencing North Korea’s approach to the United States.
“There was a different attitude by the North Korean folks after that meeting,” Mr. Trump said. “I can’t say that I’m happy about it.”
Despite Trump’s pessimism, most people seem to think it is just the North Koreans doing what they do best, which is throwing people off balance.
Still, South Korean officials said Mr. Moon would deliver an essentially upbeat message to Mr. Trump.
“We believe there is a 99.9 percent chance the North Korea-U.S. summit will be held as scheduled,” Mr. Moon’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, said to reporters traveling to Washington. “But we’re just preparing for many different possibilities.”
Mr. Chung said the two leaders would have “candid discussions on how to make the North-U.S. summit a success and produce significant agreements and how to best implement those agreements.” He insisted that Washington and Seoul were closely coordinating their efforts.
Experts in South Korea said there was still considerable hope for the Trump-Kim meeting, and that the White House should not get rattled.
“There may be a sense here that the Trump team is overreacting to North Korea’s pushback last week and losing sight of the big picture,” said John Delury, an associate professor of Chinese studies at Yonsei University in South Korea.
“Of course gaps remain in terms of negotiating peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Mr. Delury said. “That’s the reason a negotiation is necessary.”
Pres Trump said he thinks Kim Jong-un is serious about denuclearizing the peninsula. But as for the June 12th summit, "There are certain conditions we want to happen. I think we'll get those conditions. And if we don't, we won't have the meeting." NSA Bolton listens. pic.twitter.com/PszcyRzgWW
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) May 22, 2018
An alternative consideration is that Kim is not driving the train here but this is Trump tamping down expectations and perhaps ratcheting up a bit of pressure on Kim who, I think, needs this summit to work much more than Trump needs it. If Trump has any doubts he’s much better off to call off the summit rather than participate in a failed effort.
But we all know the real reason: Trump
Again, this is a lie told by the White House. North Korea’s position has not changed. This is not China’s fault. It’s not Kim’s fault. It is Trump’s fault. Do not let him rewrite this history. https://t.co/OJ6Xn2HyjE
— Jeffrey Lewis (@ArmsControlWonk) May 22, 2018
This is the press conference, the video is cued up to the first Trump comments.
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