“As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula,” the president said on the House floor. “Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in more than 15 months.”
Trump continued: “If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea. Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one.”
The president said he would meet with Kim in Vietnam on Feb. 27 and 28.
The U.S. and North Korea have been making arrangements for a second summit between Trump and Kim for months, with North Korea’s lead negotiator visiting the White House in January. The U.S. and South Korea are attempting to push Kim to abandon his country’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for lifting sanctions and normalizing relations with North Korea’s repressive government.
Trump has touted his first summit with Kim, held last June in Singapore, as a major foreign policy achievement and claimed the country no longer poses a nuclear threat. But although North Korea’s tests of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles have been paused since the meeting, former diplomats and nuclear experts say North Korea is no closer to complete denuclearization and that the U.S. has made huge concessions in the negotiations.
The president’s own top intelligence officials testified last month that North Korea wasn’t likely to give up its nuclear weapons anytime soon. A report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in January found North Korea was operating a secret missile headquarters.
Trump has largely downplayed such reports.
After initially trading insults with Kim and threatening to unleash “fire and fury” on the country, the president drastically softened his tone on North Korea since their summit. Trump has loudly and repeatedly offered fawning praise for Kim, claiming that they “fell in love” and have “fantastic chemistry.”