Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump on Friday hailed the summit between the two Koreas, saying that “good things” are happening, but pledging not to be “played” by the North’s leader Kim Jong Un ahead of their own highly anticipated meeting.
Since the early hours, Trump has offered multiple comments — tweeted and spoken, many of them positive — about the historic meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Kim and Moon agreed to pursue a permanent peace treaty and the complete denuclearization of their divided peninsula.
“After a furious year of missile launches and Nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea is now taking place,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!” he tweeted.
“Good things are happening, but only time will tell!”
An armistice brought the fighting on the Korean peninsula to an end in 1953, but 65 years later, a final peace agreement has still not been reached.
As Trump welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Oval Office, he sounded a more cautious tone.
“We’re not going to be played, okay? We’re going to hopefully make a deal,” he told reporters. “And if we don’t, we leave the room.”
On Thursday, Trump had said five locations were in consideration for his meeting with Kim, and three or four dates. He has previously said the talks could take place by early June.
On Friday, he narrowed down the possible sites to “two or three,” without specifying where they were.
– Xi’s ‘great help’ –
The US president praised his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping’s efforts on North Korea, calling them a “great help.”
“Please do not forget the great help that my good friend, President Xi of China, has given to the United States, particularly at the Border of North Korea. Without him it would have been a much longer, tougher, process!” he tweeted.
Beijing is Pyongyang’s sole major ally, but it has supported a series of United Nations sanctions to punish the North over its nuclear and missile tests.
China has pressed for dialogue to peacefully resolve the crisis.
The summit between the two Koreas — only the third since 1953 — was the highest-level encounter yet in a whirlwind of nuclear diplomacy.
But the two previous Korean summits in 2000 and 2007, both of them in Pyongyang, also ended with displays of affection and similar pledges, but the agreements ultimately came to naught.
Last year, Pyongyang carried out its sixth nuclear test, by far its most powerful to date, and launched missiles capable of reaching the US mainland.
Its actions sent tensions soaring as Kim and Trump traded personal insults and threats of war.
Trump has demanded the North give up its weapons, and Washington is pressing for it to do so in a complete, verifiable and irreversible way.
Pyongyang is demanding as yet unspecified security guarantees to discuss its arsenal.
On Friday, Kim and Moon confirmed their “common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.”