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White House ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ After North Korean Leader’s China Trip

Kim Jung-un Leaves China
KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images
Washington, DC

The White House “feels things are moving in the right direction” with North Korea and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula after Kim Jong-Un’s trip to China this week, according to press secretary Sarah Sanders.

Sanders was asked during Wednesday’s press briefing to “describe the White House’s sensibility right now.” The question was framed by past experiences with the country, including Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s 2000 trip to the Korean peninsula and subsequent “cheating the whole way through.” Kim’s father Kim Jong Il was leader of North Korea at the time.

“Certainly we’re going to be cautiously optimistic, but we feel things are moving in the right direction and that the meeting yesterday was a good indication that the maximum pressure campaign has been working,” Sanders replied.

Kim met with Chinese President Xi Jinping during what is believed to be Kim’s first trip out of his home country since ascending to the position of leader of North Korea.

“We consider that to be a positive sign that the maximum pressure campaign is continuing to work,” Sanders said, adding, “We’re going to continue moving forward in this process in hopes for a meeting down the road.”

Asked if that meeting would take place by May as previously indicated, Sanders said:

Certainly we would like to see this. Obviously, this is something of global importance and we want to make sure that it’s done as soon as we can, but we also want to make sure it’s done properly.  And we’re working towards that goal.

As we’ve said before, the North Koreans have made that offer and we’ve accepted, and we’re moving forward in that process.

Sanders was also asked when the White House was made aware of Kim’s trip to China.

She replied, “The ambassador from China came to the White House yesterday and briefed members of the national security team, who then briefed the President.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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