Donald Trump would invite the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, to the White House if next week’s summit in Singapore is successful, the US president told reporters on Thursday.
“Certainly if it goes well, and I think it would be well received, I think he would look at it very favourably, so I think that could happen,” Trump said at a joint press conference with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
Asked whether such a meeting would happen at the White House or his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Trump replied: “Maybe we’ll start with the White House. What do you think?”
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But speaking in bright sunshine in the White House rose garden, the president also struck a note of caution, repeating his warning that he is “totally prepared to walk away” if the 12 June negotiations over denuclearisation break down.
“I did it once before,” Trump said – presumably a reference to his letter that temporarily cancelled the meeting. “I hope it won’t be necessary to walk because I really believe that Kim Jong-un wants to do something that is going to be great for his people, and also great for his family and great for himself.”
Trump was asked if he and Kim could sign an agreement to end the Korean war after 65 years, and whether he would eventually like to normalise diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.
“We could absolutely sign an agreement,” he said. “We’re looking at it, we’re talking about it with them, we’re talking about it with a lot of other people, but that could happen, but that’s really the beginning. Sounds a little bit strange, but that’s probably the easy part. The hard part remains after that.
“Normalising relations is something that I would expect to do, I would hope to do when everything’s complete … There are a lot of good factors lined up for North Korea, a lot of tremendous factors that give it tremendous potential. It has tremendous potential because the people are great and we would certainly like to see normalisation, yes.”
Last week Trump admitted he is no longer using the term “maximum pressure” to describe sanctions against North Korea but warned that more could be imposed. On Thursday, he explained: “Maximum pressure is absolutely in effect. We don’t use the term any more because we’re going into a friendly negotiation.