Donald Trump Says North Korea Summit With Kim Jong Un Is Back On

Following days of rapid-fire diplomacy on both sides of the Pacific, the historic meeting appears to be on track again.

President Donald Trump on Friday suggested that his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore may occur after all.

“We’ll be meeting June 12 in Singapore. You people will have to be in Singapore,” he told reporters at the White House. He said he had just met with Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s top nuclear weapons negotiator.

In long, meandering comments Friday afternoon, Trump said that he received a “very nice letter” from Kim Jong Un. 

Later, he said that he had not read it yet: “I may be in for a big surprise, folks.”

Trump said he hoped the meeting would be “ultimately successful” but said he did not expect concrete results, like North Korea’s denuclearization, stressing that the meeting is “the start of a process.”

“Remember what I say, we will see what we will see,” he said.

President Donald Trump speaks to the media after meeting with North Korean diplomat Kim Yong Chol on Friday.
President Donald Trump speaks to the media after meeting with North Korean diplomat Kim Yong Chol on Friday.

Since Trump’s abrupt cancellation last week of the historic meeting with Kim, there’s been an international scramble to salvage the event — with rapid-fire diplomacy efforts in the U.S., on the Korean Peninsula and in Singapore, the Southeast Asian city-state hosting the summit.

Kim Yong Chol arrived in New York on Wednesday for talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The diplomat is the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the U.S. since 2000, when Jo Myong Rok, the late vice marshal, met with then-President Bill Clinton in Washington.

In Singapore, Kim Chang Son, another of Kim Jong Un’s top aides, met with Joe Hagin, a deputy White House chief of staff, earlier in the week to iron out the logistics of a potential meeting, including security, venue spaces and transportation, reported The Washington Post.

On Sunday, officials from North Korea and the U.S. met for talks at the “truce village” in the Demilitarized Zone that separates the Korean Peninsula. President Trump said in a tweet that officials were there to “make arrangements for the summit.” One day prior, South Korean President Moon Jae In ― who was reportedly blindsided by Trump’s decision to pull out of the summit ― traveled to the DMZ for an impromptu meeting with Kim Jong Un. Moon later told reporters that the two leaders agreed the summit “must be successfully held.”  

With the summit now back on the table, attention will likely shift to the substance of the meeting and whether Trump and Kim will be able to get on the same page about how to best denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. 

Cho Myoung Gyon, the South Korean unification minister, warned this week that “significant” differences remain between the U.S. and North Korea on how to achieve denuclearization.

“It will not be easy to narrow the gap and find common ground,” he said, according to the Yonhap News Agency. Cho added, however, that “it would not be impossible” and said he was heartened by the diplomatic efforts undertaken by the two countries in recent days.

“Now that the leaders of the two countries are engaging in talks in a top-down manner, I think the chances are high that common ground can be found,” Cho said.

Marina Fang contributed reporting.