The highly anticipated meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and President Trump may be in limbo, but the two countries are reportedly working behind the scenes to maintain the peace process.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo led a delegation to North Korea this week to iron out the details of a prospective meeting between the two leaders, as their previous meeting on June 12 in Singapore was canceled.
The North Korean leaders also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov while the U.S. delegation was there. During the meeting between Jong Un and Lavrov, the North Korean leader reportedly reaffirmed his dedication to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
After a bumpy last two weeks between the U.S. and North Korea, of name-calling and canceling the meeting, Jong-Un’s reaffirmation may be his clearest sign yet of being dedicated to international peace.
Per ABC News:
Pyongyang’s state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported the reaffirmation occurred — as a meeting with the U.S. hangs in the balance — at an encounter between its leader and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Kim was quoted as saying, “DPRK’s will for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula still remains unchanged and consistent and fixed.”
Kim also called for a settlement in denuclearization through “effective and constructive” dialogue and negotiation using a new method in a new era to meet the interests of each other, according to Yonhap.
According to the report, Pompeo will be returning to the U.S. on Friday to hand-deliver to Trump a personal letter from Jong-Un.
“A letter is going to be delivered to me from Kim Jong Un,” Trump reportedly told reporters. “So I look forward to seeing what’s in the letter.”
The remark may be a hint as to what is inside a mysterious letter from Kim set to be delivered to President Donald Trump. North Korea’s envoy Kim Yong Chol, who held talks with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the past two days, is supposed to deliver its leader’s letter to Trump on Friday.
“Very good meetings with North Korea,” President Trump tweeted on Thursday.
Very good meetings with North Korea.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2018
“Trump’s objective is very consistent & well-known: the complete, verifiable, & irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. President Trump has also made it clear that if Kim Jong-Un denuclearizes, there is a brighter path for North Korea,” Vice President Pence added.
As @SecPompeo said: @POTUS Trump’s objective is very consistent & well-known: the complete, verifiable, & irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. President Trump has also made it clear that if Kim Jong-Un denuclearizes, there is a brighter path for North Korea.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) May 31, 2018
As Politico reports, there are still key questions which have gone unanswered regarding the upcoming meeting and the subsequent goal of North Korea’s denuclearization:
One key question is how much time Trump is willing to give North Korea to meet his definition of “denuclearization.” Bolton and Pompeo have both indicated they do not want a long, drawn-out process that lasts years and includes a step-by-step reduction of North Korean arms in return for U.S. concessions. They point to past U.S. nuclear deals with North Korea that collapsed over time, saying America was too trusting and North Korea broke its promises.
Pompeo told lawmakers last week that Trump is impatient for results. “We’re not going to let this drag out,” he said. “We’re not going to provide economic relief until such time as we have an irreversible set of actions, not words … undertaken by the North Korean regime.”
But just the day before, Trump himself appeared to leave the door open for an incremental approach. “It would certainly be better if it were all in one,” the president said when asked about a phased approach coupled with U.S. incentives. “Does it have to be? I don’t think I want to totally commit myself.”