White House optimistic for Trump-Kim summit amid positive NK report

By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |  Updated June 11, 2018 at 8:54 AM
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June 11 (UPI) -- White House officials said Monday they are optimistic a shift in U.S.-North Korean policy is coming ahead of the historic summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Although the schedule for the summit meeting in Singapore remains flexible, two meetings between the leaders are planned. The first is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, or 9 p.m. Monday EDT.

The White House said the schedule begins with a ceremonial greeting, followed by a one-on-one meeting, with only Trump, Kim and translators present. A bilateral meeting and a working lunch, which will include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chief of Staff John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton, will follow.

A second meeting on Tuesday is expected by U.S. officials in Singapore, but not confirmed by North Korean officials.

Trump's administration is optimistic about the summit, citing a report Monday from North Korean state media outlet KCNA that said the meeting offers an opportunity to build "a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism" and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

Officials hope the report from KCNA, typically a vehicle for North Korean denunciation of U.S. policy, suggests improving relations after decades of hostility.

"I think we should take some optimism from that reporting," a White House official told ABC News. "Given the history of the way KCNA has reported, I think that is a sign for optimism."

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday also expressed hope for the success of the talks, but said the event is only the beginning of a "long process" of denuclearizing the communist state, which he said could take years.

"The deep-rooted hostile relationship and the North Korean nuclear issue cannot be resolved in one single action in a meeting between leaders. Even after the two leaders open the dialogue, we will need a long process that may take one year, two years or even longer to completely resolve the issues," the president said in a weekly meeting with his top aides held at his office Cheong Wa Dae.

Trump and Kim arrived in Singapore Sunday, at different airports. Each met separately with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Trump told Lee at a luncheon, "We've got a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow. I think things could work out very nicely. We appreciate your hospitality and professionalism and friendship."

Trump traveled to Singapore from Canada, where he left the G7 summit early and alienated leaders with a refusal to agree to a post-meeting communique on trade policy. U.S. tariffs against steel and aluminum imported from most of the G7 countries caused the Quebec summit to largely be a critique of Trump's trade policies. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was vehement is saying that Canada will retaliate with tariffs on U.S. goods.

Larry Kudlow, the White House senior economic adviser, CNN on Sunday Trump is "not going to let a Canadian prime minister push him around" in advance of the North Korean meeting. "Kim must not see American weakness."

Other foreign policy analysts said the failure of the G7 summit suggests Trump may not be able to strike a deal beneficial to the United States with anyone.

"If Trump can't negotiate a deal on milk with one of our closest allies, how is he going to get a deal on nuclear disarmament with one of our greatest foes?" tweeted Michael McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Barack Obama administration.

South Korean news agency Yonhap contributed to this report.

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