WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday he feels “very well prepared” for next week’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, telling reporters at the White House that he didn’t need to prepare more for the high-stakes denuclearization talks because “it’s about the attitude” and the “willingness” of both sides to negotiate.
“I think I’m very well prepared,” Trump said responding to questions about the June 12 summit in Singapore. “I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about the attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done.”
Trump spoke to reporters at the Oval Office as he welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe back to the White House to discuss trade and the president’s upcoming summit with North Korea.
“I think I’ve been preparing for the summit for a long time, as has the other side,” Trump said. “They’ve been preparing for a long time, also. So this isn’t a question of preparation, it’s a question of whether or not people want it to happen, and we’ll know that very quickly.”
Abe, speaking in Japanese, said he wanted to use the meeting with Trump “to make sure that we have the utmost policy coordination.” Abe has previously said he hopes the U.S. does not negotiate a deal that would bar North Korea’s development of long-range missiles capable of striking the U.S., while leaving in place shorter-range missiles that could continue to pose a threat to Japan and South Korea.
“My sincere hope is that the upcoming planned U.S.-North Korea summit meeting will serve as an opportunity through which we will have greater peace and stability and also this will be a dramatic and transformational moment in terms of the situation in Northeast Asia,” Abe said in translated remarks.
At a follow-up joint news conference at the White House Rose Garden, Abe also made a heartfelt appeal for Trump’s discussions with Kim to include the abduction of dozens of Japanese citizens by North Korea during the 1970s and 1980s. Japan has long pressed North Korea to return the abducted citizens, but North Korea has downplayed the number of Japanese it continues to hold captive.
Asked if he would broach the abductions with Kim, Trump said Abe had “talked about it long and hard and passionately, and I will follow his wishes, and we will be discussing that with North Korea, absolutely.”
Trump added that he was “totally prepared to walk away” from the negotiating table if talks do not go well, but said he “certainly” would consider inviting Kim to the United States should the discussions be fruitful.
The president said he will continue to press North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program, but acknowledged such a deal might not occur during their first face to face meeting.
“I think it’s a process . . . I think it’s not a one-meeting deal. It would be wonderful if it were,” Trump said.
He added that he was open to the possibility of signing an agreement with both North and South Korea to formally declare an end to the Korean War. The conflict concluded in 1953 with an armistice between the three nations, that stopped short of a full-fledged peace treaty.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Thursday that he has held in-depth daily briefings with Trump over the past few months, and he was “very confident the president will be fully prepared when he meets with his North Korean counterparts.”
“It’s not about who has the upper hand, it’s about trying to find a way where the two sides can come to an understanding where we can get concrete steps, not just words that resolve this challenge,” Pompeo said at a news briefing held at the White House.