Washington | US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will meet one-on-one and spend substantial amount of time together next week when the two leaders meet in Hanoi, Vietnam, the White House said on Thursday.
Trump and Kim are meeting for their second summit on February 27 and 28. The first one was on June 12 in Singapore, which was part of the president’s effort to improve his country’s relationship with North Korea and ultimately have a denuclearised state.
“There will be opportunities for the two leaders to see one another one-on-one, to share a meal and indeed for expanded meetings of their respective delegations in laying out the objectives (which) is ultimately about denuclearisation of North Korea, a senior administration official told reporters during a conference call.
“That is what was agreed already between the two sides and that is the overriding goal that President Trump is seeking to achieve with this summit,” the official said, who spoke with reporters on condition of anonymity. This is an important step towards that ultimate goal, the official noted.
“After breaking the ice with Kim in some aspects in June, Trump is also looking to talk in depth about the kind of future that North Korea could enjoy if it follows through on its commitment to the final and full of denuclearisation,” the official said.
Trump would be accompanied by his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and several of his top aides for the second summit meeting with the North Korean leader. Hundreds of reporters are travelling to Hanoi to cover the much-anticipated summit.
Officials from the two countries are still negotiating on the text of the agreement or the joint statement that could be issued after the conclusion of the talks between the two leaders next week, another senior administration official said, responding to a poser.
“We are in the midst of negotiating some issues and as is often the case in these negotiations nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to. And in this case, I would not want to mention any of the specifics except that we will be closely engaged with the North Korean delegations right up until the president arrives for the summit next week,” a third official said.
The official noted that the talks are an effort towards denuclearisation of North Korea. At the same time, he cautioned that nothing was guaranteed as of now.
“I don’t know if North Korea has made the choice yet to denuclearise but the reason why we are engaged in this is because we believe there’s a possibility that North Korea could make the choice to fully denuclearise and that is why the president has assigned such a priority to engaging with him (Kim),” the official said.
One of the frustrating things about intelligence assessments is that they are reported completely divorced from policy, the official said.
“It is not that the North Koreans are advancing their weapons of mass destruction programme despite our diplomacy. Our diplomacy is precisely because of what the North Koreans are doing and this is why the president has placed such a high priority on convincing the North Koreans to make a different set of choices,” he said.