North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has offered to hold a third summit with United States President Donald Trump, in statements released hot on the heels of Thursday’s meeting in Washington between Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
“If the US proposes holding a third North Korea-US summit with a right attitude and a right method, we have a willingness to do it one more time,” Kim was quoted as saying by Pyongyang’s Korea Central News Agency, which is monitored by South Korean media.
Kim said he would wait until the end of the year.
Kim was making his first public comments on the issue since the second North Korea-US summit, in Hanoi, Vietnam, collapsed without a deal in February. Prior to their leader’s statements, North Korean officials had expressed their displeasure with the outcome in carefully managed press briefings in Hanoi and Pyongyang.
The timing of Kim’s announcement looks significant. His statements were reported by state media on Saturday after being made to the Supreme People’s Assembly on Friday – the country’s rubber-stamp parliament had convened Thursday. Moon and Trump had also met in Washington on Thursday, where both made conciliatory statements toward North Korea.
But Kim blew both hot and cold, chastising Washington for the failure of the Hanoi pow-wow.
“The US came up to the negotiation venue focusing only on methods that can never be realized,” he said. “It was not ready to sit face-to-face and solve problems. Neither did it have smart directions or methods.
“We do not welcome nor have any desire to see another Hanoi summit,” he added.
In Hanoi, Pyongyang offered to close its main nuclear facility in return for sanctions relief, but Washington sought a “big deal” comprising – in details which have emerged post-summit – the demand that North Korea surrender all its nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction.
Kim asserted that any future agreement would have to be “… fair, mutually acceptable and this will entirely depend upon with what attitude and calculus the US would come up with.”
In the months since Hanoi, there have been no known follow-up negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. The biggest political development related to Korean peninsula issues was Thursday’s Moon-Trump meeting.
The Trump-Kim bromance
During a press conference before his talks with Moon, Trump had mentioned his personal amity toward Kim, saying: “I’ve had some very strong relationships with others, but I have a very, very good relationship with Kim Jong Un, and I think you see that.”
Trump had also dangled the possibility of a third summit. “A third summit could happen,” Trump said. “And it’s step by step. It’s not a fast process. I’ve never said it would be.”
Moon and Trump had also both concurred on the importance of top-down dialog.
Kim appeared to be in lock step with these various sentiments – particularly regarding his relationship with Trump.
“As President Trump has repeatedly mentioned, personal relations between me and President Trump are not as hostile as relations between the two countries, and we still maintain excellent relations and can exchange letters whenever we would like to,” Kim said in comments reported Saturday.
Moon said he was seeking a fourth summit with Kim, but the presidential Blue House later clarified that neither a site nor timing had been discussed.
Regarding Kim’s comments, and the possibility of a third North Korea-US summit, a Blue House official said in a message to foreign reporters: “Our government will do what it can in order to maintain the current momentum for dialog and help negotiations between the US and North Korea to resume at an early date.”