President Donald Trump said in an interview on Monday that “a lot of good things are happening” with respect to North Korea, although he faulted China for scaling back its assistance due to trade disputes with the United States. Trump said he will “most likely” meet in person again with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
I met him three months ago. These guys have been working on it for 30 years. I stopped nuclear testing; I stopped missile testing. Japan is thrilled. What’s going to happen? Who knows. We’re going to see.
Look, I have a good relationship with him. I like him. A lot of people will say: “How could you possibly like him?” I get along with him very well; we have a good chemistry. I have a good chemistry with Putin, too.
Asked about the prospect of meeting with Kim again, Trump replied, “I don’t want to comment on that, but it’s most likely we will.”
Trump said he believes the North Koreans have taken concrete steps to denuclearize beyond demolishing the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri, a measure critics have derided as mere “grandstanding.” The president did not elaborate on the other steps North Korea has taken.
The South Korean government responded positively to Trump’s interview on Tuesday. A spokesman for President Moon Jae-in said a second Trump-Kim summit would be “part of a process for achieving the two leaders’ resolve for the denuclearization and peace of the Korean peninsula.”
“We hope that North Korea-U.S. relations would make rapid progress and bear fruit,” the spokesman added.
Reuters noted growing enthusiasm in Seoul for North and South Korea to request a formal conclusion of the Korean War at the U.N. General Assembly next month. A number of parties other than the two Koreas would have to approve a peace treaty, including the United States.
The Japan Times on Friday noted an interesting pattern in North Korean state-run media: Pyongyang’s typically belligerent papers are refraining from criticizing President Trump, instead lavishing him with praise while blaming his political opponents and American “hardliners” for slow progress on denuclearization.
A fresh round of such editorializing over the weekend was taken as a signal that American officials have sternly confronted North Korea about suspected secret nuclear weapons facilities. New Zealand-based analyst Van Jackson told Japan Times the North Koreans are “obviously appealing to Trump’s ego, as every other foreign leader has by now learned, and so far it’s working.”
The question of how much North Korea’s ploy is “working” is the great question of the day. If Pyongyang can only manage to get a few upbeat comments from President Trump in media interviews, while the rest of the administration pushes hard for complete denuclearization and tough sanctions are kept in place until it is achieved, then North Korea’s strategy is not working very well at all. It should be clear to everyone by now that the North Korean nuclear crisis will not be resolved by what anyone says.