|US President Donald Trump speaks at a Republican Party event in Las Vegas on Saturday. Yonhap|
Speaking after a rally in Las Vegas for US Sen. Dean Heller’s campaign, Trump said that his peace initiative with North Korea was already paying off despite criticism that his Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un earlier this month was long on positive imagery but short on specific accomplishments.
Trump and Kim held a historic summit on June 12 in Singapore, and signed a jointed statement saying that the two sides will work together on denuclearization and to improve relations.
After the summit, Trump also revealed that he agreed to suspend joint military drills with South Korea. Since then, South Korean and US militaries have announced the suspension of a number of drills including the annual Freedom Guardian exercise.
Trump has drawn some criticism from national security analysts for an agreement that emerged from his Singapore summit with Kim that had few details on how Pyongyang would surrender its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. At a roundtable with local business leaders after his speech, Trump said he believes North Korea will engage in “total denuclearization.”
He said the agreement is paying off in terms of the North‘s suspension of nuclear weapons tests and missile tests, as well as the planned surrender of the remains of American soldiers killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War and a general lowering of tensions in the region after last year’s saber rattling.
Of Kim, he said, “We have a good chemistry together. We get along great. He‘s a smart, tough guy. He’s a great negotiator.”
Trump’s assessment of the denuclearization deal was backed up by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said that Pyongyang and Washington are working on the issue.
Speaking in an interview aired Saturday with Hugh Hewitt on MSNBC, Pompeo said the latest denuclearization effort will be different based on developments since the June 12 US-North Korea summit.
“Both parties understand red lines, things that neither country is prepared to go passed, that give us an opportunity to believe that we really might for the first time -- this is not the first rodeo negotiating with North Korea -- that perhaps this time is different,” he said.
Pompeo, however, also said that Washington is fully aware that negotiations could fall through, and that sanctions will remain in place if that comes about.
“The president has said this very clearly,” Pompeo said.
“If this (time) isn’t different, if it is the case that Chairman Kim either is unable to or unprepared to denuclearize, sanctions will remain in place. The enforcement of those sanctions will continue and we will be back hard at it if the negotiations prove to be either not in good faith or unproductive,” Pompeo said.
By Choi He-suk and news reports (email@example.com)