Trump narrows down Kim talks date to next 3-4 weeks, hogs credit for breakthrough
Addressing a crowd of supporters in Michigan, Trump indicated that his meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un was a decided matter, and narrowed down the possible date.
“We're going to have, hopefully, a very successful negotiation over the next three or four weeks,” Trump said. The previously expected range was from May to June. The meeting, the first of its kind for a sitting US president, will focus on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, Trump said.
“We’ll be doing the world a big favor. Let’s see how it goes. I think we’re going to do fine. We’re going to do just fine,” he said.
Trump vowed to stick to his hardline approach of "not playing games" with North Korea, and the crowd exploded in chants of "Nobel! Nobel!"
The US president, all smiles, took a few seconds to bask in the praise, then humbly acknowledged: “That’s very nice, thank you. I just want to get the job done,” which elicited another round of cheering.
With an offhand swipe at the “fake news” media, Trump claimed it was his firm stance on North Korea that spawned progress in Pyongyang’s de-nuclearization.
"Remember what they were saying? He's going to get us into nuclear war, they said. No, no, no — strength is going to keep us out of nuclear war, not going to get us in,” Trump, who once infamously threatened Pyongyang with “fire and fury,” said.
"I had one of the fake news groups this morning, they were saying, 'what do you think President Trump had to do with it?' I'll tell you what — like, how about everything,” he added.
Last week, North Korea announced the indefinite suspension of all its nuclear and missile tests and the closure of a major test site. The surprising announcement raised speculations that the shutdown of the site was temporary or was forced because it is no longer operable. However, South Korea on Saturday said that the North insisted the site was perfectly in order and invited media and security experts to oversee its closure planned for May.
Trump was speaking a day after a landmark summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, during which the leaders of two Koreas reiterated their commitment to making the peninsula completely nuclear-free and expressed hope for a permanent peace treaty to replace the 1953 truce by the end of the year.
Ahead of the rally in Michigan, Trump got a briefing on the summit from Moon, with both agreeing that “unprecedented pressure” by Washington, Seoul and the international community “led to this significant moment.”
Tweeting after the call, Trump confirmed that the “time and location of meeting with North Korea is being set.” While no official venue has been yet announced, CBS News reported, citing administration sources, that the White House is now choosing between Mongolia and Singapore. Vladivostok has been named as another possible spot.