U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday held out the prospect of inviting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to the White House if he deemed next week’s summit a success while also signaling he was willing to walk away if he thought talks did not go well.
At a White House news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump repeated what he said last Friday that it was possible he and Kim could sign an agreement to end the 1950-53 Korean War, which was concluded only with a truce, not a peace treaty.
“We could sign an agreement, as you know that would be a first step … We’re looking at it, we’re talking about it with a lot of other people,” Trump told reporters on Thursday. “That’s probably the easy part. The hard part remains after that.”
Trump added that he hoped someday U.S. relations with Kim‘s secretive Pyongyang government could be normalized.
The main issue for the June 12 summit in Singapore is the U.S. demand for North Korea to abandon a nuclear weapons program that now threatens the United States. North Korea has rejected giving up its arsenal unilaterally.
North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programs as a deterrent against what it sees as U.S. aggression. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War.
Trump said he would quit the talks if he felt he must, and would ramp up U.S. sanctions pressure on North Korea if the talks did not go well.
Earlier, Trump told reporters it was essential that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons. “If they don’t denuclearize, that will not be acceptable,” he told reporters shortly after Abe arrived at theWhite House.
“I am totally prepared to walk away,” he later said at the news conference.
On the other hand, Trump said he might extend an invitation to Kim to Washington.
“Certainly if it goes well. I think it would be well received,” he said in answer to a question. “I think he would look at it very favorably so I think that could happen.”
Trump also pledged to bring up the subject of Japanese abductees with Kim, after Abe focused on the issue during their earlier conversation.
“He talked about it long and hard and passionately and I will follow his wishes and we will be discussing that with North Korea absolutely, absolutely,” Trump said.