(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said his planned meeting with Kim Jong Un is back on for June 12 in Singapore, after he sat down with a senior adviser to the North Korean leader in the White House to continue laying the groundwork for the historic meeting.
“We are going to deal, and we are really going to start a process,” Trump told reporters on Friday, adding that the two sides don’t expect to sign any agreement on June 12. “Remember what I say: We will see what we will see.”
Trump said he spoke with the North Korean envoy, Kim Yong Chol, about sanctions on the reclusive regime. The U.S. has “hundreds of new sanctions that are ready to go” but isn’t going to implement them while talks are ongoing. “Why would I do that when we’re talking so nicely,” he said.
“I look forward to the day I can take the sanctions off North Korea,” Trump said. “I don’t even want to use the term maximum pressure anymore.”
He also said “we talked about ending the war,” suggesting a formal conclusion of hostilities stemming from the Korean War in the 1950s could be a result of the Singapore summit. “Can you believe we’re talking the ending of the Korean War?”
‘Very Nice Letter’
Trump received Kim Yong Chol, a former North Korean spy chief who’s been involved in decades of nuclear talks, in the Oval Office. The North Korean envoy hand-delivered a letter to Trump from the North Korean leader, after a day of talks in New York with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The president told reporters it was a “very nice letter” although he went on to say he hadn’t opened it yet. White House aides later confirmed that Trump has read the letter.
After the meeting, which lasted more than an hour, Trump walked Kim out of the White House. They continued to speak and posed for photos before Kim got into a black SUV and departed.
Kim was welcomed to the White House earlier by Chief of Staff John Kelly, who together with CIA Korea chief Andy Kim led the official into the Diplomatic Reception Room, then along the Colonnade and past the Rose Garden to the Oval Office.
After meeting with Kim Yong Chol on Thursday morning in New York, Pompeo said the two sides made “real progress” but declined to discuss specifics. The lack of details served to highlight the tenuous nature of the North Korean-U.S. rapprochement.
The U.S. insists that North Korea must give up all its nuclear weapons before it can shed its pariah status or get any relief from a crushing sanctions regime. North Korea has bridled at the idea, and it’s not at all clear the two sides will be able to bridge their differences enough for a meeting between Trump and Kim to be deemed a success.
Trump had called off plans for a summit in a letter to Kim on May 24, complaining of “the tremendous anger and open hostility” in comments from North Korea. But he also invited the response he received Friday, writing, “If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.”
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