WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday said he expects to make “progress” on denuclearization talks in his upcoming summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, even as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned that both sides “may not get everything done this week.”
Trump took to Twitter on Sunday morning to tout his “Great relationship with Chairman Kim!” as he prepares to depart on Monday to Hanoi, Vietnam, for a second face-to-face meeting with Kim.
The president said both leaders “expect a continuation of the progress made at first Summit in Singapore. Denuclearization?”
Last year, the two leaders met for the first time in Singapore, making Trump the first U.S. president to meet directly with North Korea’s head of state after decades of tense relations between the two countries. While Trump has routinely declared the summit a success, saying North Korea has stopped testing nuclear weapons, intelligence officials have countered that Kim continues to hold on to North Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal and is unlikely to give up the country's weapons production capabilities.
Pompeo, appearing on Fox News Sunday, struck a cautious tone about what concrete agreements both leaders could reach when they meet on Thursday.
“I hope we can make a real substantive step forward this week. It may not happen, but I hope that it will,” Pompeo said of getting North Korea to agree to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
Pompeo added: “There may have to be another summit, we may not get everything done this week.”
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” Pompeo asserted that North Korea indeed remains a nuclear threat, after he was asked about a June 2018 tweet by Trump that stated, in part, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
“That’s not what he said," Pompeo told CNN anchor Jake Tapper. “What he said was that the efforts that had been made in Singapore, this commitment that Chairman Kim made, have substantially taken down the risk to the American people.”
Pompeo said leading up to Thursday's meeting the Trump administration has “made it very plain to Chairman Kim: The alternative to giving up his nuclear weapons is remaining a pariah state. Remaining a nation that is unable to trade, unable to grow, unable to take care of its own people."
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” he was concerned that the Trump administration is entering the talks without specific denuclearization deadlines and goals in hand.
“Nothing is clear,” Markey said. “I think as a result we could run the risk that Kim is given concessions which are not accompanied by real concessions that the United States is receiving in return from Kim and his regime.”
Former United Nations Ambassador Bill Richardson, who previously negotiated with North Korea over the release of U.S. citizens detained there, told ABC's "This Week" he was concerned the second summit "may be a dud."
"I don't believe it would be a successful summit unless you had some kind of commitment on North Korea's part on denuclearization," Richardson said.
A coalition of Senate Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), issued a letter to Trump on Sunday telling the commander in chief his next meeting with Kim "must demonstrate tangible, verifiable progress on denuclearization and reducing tensions with the North.”
Trump, on Twitter, took aim at his critics.
"So funny to watch people who have failed for years, they got NOTHING, telling me how to negotiate with North Korea. But thanks anyway!"