President Donald Trump told reporters following a meeting with senior North Korean officials on Friday that he does not see the United States investing heavily in the reconstruction of North Korea should both parties finalize an official end to the Korean War.
President Trump’s remarks follow months of pressure from China and South Korea on Washington to invest in the economic reconstruction of North Korea, ravaged by nearly a century of oppressive communist rule.
“I don’t think the United States is going to have to spend,” Trump said, standing next to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Friday afternoon following a two-hour meeting with Kim Yong-chol, a senior North Korean official labeled a “specially designated person” by the U.S. Treasury for his reported involvement in multiple terrorist attacks, including the 2014 hacking of Sony.
“South Korea will do that,” Trump told a reporter who asked if the two sides discussed American economic nation-building in the country. “I think South Korea will do it. I think China – I think, frankly, China will help out. I think Japan will help out. I don’t see the United States spending a lot of money.”
“We have three hostages – how much money did we spend on the hostages?” Trump asked. “Look, we’re very far away. We are very far away. Those places are very close; that’s their neighborhood. We’re 6,000 miles away, so I already told South Korea, you know, you’re going to have to get ready. Japan also.”
“And I think they really want to see something great happen. Japan does, South Korea does, and I think China does,” Trump concluded.
In a joint statement published following a meeting between leftist South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the two nations agreed that “the international community, including the United States, must actively take part in ensuring a bright future for North Korea through a security guarantee and support for its economic development.”
The Chinese government-controlled newspaper Global Times made a similar, though blunter, suggestion in April. “Quick nuclear abandonment by Pyongyang is certainly a welcome thing,” a column in the newspaper suggested, “but such a sharp change could take place only if the US offers Pyongyang attractive rewards.”
During remarks Friday, President Trump confirmed he has rescinded his public cancelation of a scheduled June 12 meeting with dictator Kim Jong-un in Singapore, stating that Kim had sent him a “very nice” and “very interesting” letter through Kim Yong-chol. He later noted that he had not opened the letter.
The summit is scheduled to occur in Singapore, where State Department officials are currently meeting with North Korean counterparts to plan the logistics of the meeting.