Trump touts ‘bold, new push for peace’ with N. Korea

September 25, 2018

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 (Yonhap) — U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday touted his administration’s efforts to achieve peace through negotiations to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Trump said his Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June was “highly productive.”

The two leaders agreed that it was in both countries’ interest to pursue denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, he said.

“With support from many countries here today, we have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace,” Trump told the U.N., striking a markedly different tone from a year ago, when he stood at the same podium to threaten to “totally destroy” North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Trump had also mocked Kim with the moniker “Rocket Man.”

“I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken,” the president said Tuesday, adding that much work remains to be done. “The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs.”

This AP file photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump. (Yonhap)

This AP file photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump. (Yonhap)

As signs of progress, Trump cited North Korea’s suspension of nuclear and ballistic missile tests, the ongoing dismantlement of “some military facilities,” the release of American prisoners, and the return of the remains of American troops killed in the 1950-53 Korean War.

Trump also thanked the international community for its support in the denuclearization campaign, singling out South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump has said that he expects to hold a second meeting with Kim “in the not too distant future.” An announcement will come soon on the date and location, he said.

The White House said after Monday’s meeting between Moon and Trump in New York that the leaders discussed plans for the second summit and agreed to coordinate the next steps.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said he plans to go to Pyongyang soon to lay the groundwork for that meeting.

While critics remain skeptical of the North’s will to denuclearize, negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang received a boost after Moon held a third meeting with Kim in Pyongyang last week.

At that summit, Kim committed to shut down a missile testing site and — if the U.S. took corresponding measures — to dismantle key nuclear facilities.

Trump and Kim agreed at their Singapore summit that North Korea would work toward “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S.

But implementation of the deal stalled as the U.S. demanded a full declaration of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and the North insisted on jointly declaring an end to the Korean War, which ended only with an armistice, not a peace treaty.