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Kim Jong Un takes questions from reporters as Trump says 'no rush' on nukes

By Elizabeth Shim
Kim Jong Un takes questions from reporters as Trump says 'no rush' on nukes
A South Korean at Yongsan electronics market in Seoul stands by a television news broadcast of U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meeting in Hanoi on Thursday. File Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA

Feb. 27 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un answered a question from the White House press pool for the first time on Thursday, ahead of a one-on-one meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi.

In an unprecedented move, the North Korean answered a question from a journalist about his outlook ahead of an expected joint agreement in the afternoon.

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Through his interpreter, Kim said, "It's too early to tell but I wouldn't say I'm pessimistic. I feel good results will come out."

The North Korean leader, who has never directly interacted with foreign reporters, made the rare statement after Trump said that he's in "no rush" to denuclearize North Korea.

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Later in the afternoon, Kim took more questions.

Trump, who is holding his second summit with Kim following their historic meeting in Singapore last June, was referring to a timeline on denuclearization and the dismantlement of North Korean weapons production facilities.

"Speed is not that important," Trump said, adding that there's been no test of North Korea nuclear rockets, which he said he "very much appreciates" as Kim sat next to him, listening.

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"I thank Chairman Kim...I'm in no rush," the president said again as each leader's interpreters took turns translating the statements.

Kim said very little during the brief press encounter, but listened and grinned as Trump pledged to turn North Korea into an "economic powerhouse."

The president also said the United States "very much looks forward to helping" Pyongyang with economic reform, and added the two sides plan to meet "many times."

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The two leaders exchanged "many good ideas" over dinner the previous night, Trump said, but did not elaborate on the topics discussed.

Trump's statement could mean any U.S. efforts to dismantle Pyongyang's program, including the core nuclear program at Yongbyon, could be postponed. Yongbyon is where the regime produces plutonium.

Outside the hotel, heavy security that included Kim's entourage of North Korean bodyguards surrounded the area.

Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong is a part of the delegation that accompanied him on Thursday. An expanded bilateral meeting is to begin following the summit, according to the White House.

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