If summit with North Korea goes well, Donald Trump plans to invite Kim Jong Un to White House

Donald Trump left on Friday for the G-7 summit in Canada, is meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12 for a historic summit.

world Updated: Jun 08, 2018 22:38 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
North Korea,US,Trump Kim meeting
A combination photo shows US President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.(Reuters File Photo)

The United States on Thursday signalled that if the upcoming summit in Singapore goes well, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who was routinely derided by American officials and lawmakers as a dictator and a tyrant till some months ago, could be invited to the White House.

And that looks increasingly likely with the United States also indicating there was greater convergence with North Korea on the question of “denuclearization”, the understanding of the goal, a key target for President Donald Trump and an issue that will make or break the summit.

Trump, who left Friday for the G-7 summit in Canada, is meeting Chairman Kim in Singapore on June 12 for a historic summit that could either become his signature foreign policy initiative, and possibly a Nobel Peace Prize, if it goes well or hand him an international embarrassment.

If it goes well, Trump said to reporters at a news briefing with visiting Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, that he would invite Chairman Kim to the United States — and to the White House, when asked if it will the official residence or his Florida resort where he has hosted many world leaders.

“Maybe we'll start with the White House,” he said.

Trump sounded optimistic even as he couched it in his usual caveats. “I am totally prepared to walk,” he said, adding, “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.”

But if it doesn’t go well? “You'll know how well we do in the negotiation,” he said. “If you hear me saying we're going to use ‘maximum pressure’ (a phrase the US uses to describe the sanctions that it believes forced Kim to ask for a summit), you'll know the negotiation did not do well.”

The key to the success or the failure of the talks will be “denuclearization”, either all-in-one go or in phases. Experts and commentators worry the phrase is not understood the same way in Pyongyang as it is in Washington DC and other world capitals that will be monitoring the talks closely.

Asked what progress have you made in narrowing the gap in US understanding of denuclearization and North Korea’s and if there had been progress on that question, secretary of state Mike Pompeo said at a separate news conference, “Yes”.

Asked if he could elaborate, he replied, “No”.

But citing his two meetings with Chairman Kim, secretary Pompeo echoed the President’s optimism. Kim, he said, “has indicated to me, personally, that he is prepared to denuclearize; that he understands that the current model doesn’t work, that he’s prepared to denuclearize”.

First Published: Jun 08, 2018 21:17 IST