Monday 22 October 2018

President hints at Kim meeting as he jokes with journalists

It was unclear if Mr Trump was joking or if formal US-North Korea talks were imminent. Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas
It was unclear if Mr Trump was joking or if formal US-North Korea talks were imminent. Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

Makini Brice

During a joke-filled monologue at a dinner with journalists, US President Donald Trump suggested the United States will be meeting with North Korea but has told Pyongyang it must first "denuke".

"Now we are talking and they, by the way, called up a couple of days ago. They said that 'we would like to talk'. And I said, 'so would we, but you have to denuke, you have to denuke'," Mr Trump told attendees at the annual Gridiron Club dinner.

"We will be meeting and we'll see if anything positive happens," he added.

It was unclear if Mr Trump was joking or if formal US-North Korea talks were imminent.

"I won't rule out direct talks with Kim Jong-un. I just won't," he said, referring to North Korea's leader.

Mr Trump did, however, make a joke at his own expense.

"As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that's his problem, not mine."

If a meeting were to come together, it would be the first between the Trump administration and Pyongyang, which are in a standoff over North Korea's development of nuclear weapons capable of hitting the United States.

Mr Trump's remarks came shortly before South Korea's presidency announced yesterday that a high-level delegation of South Korean officials will travel to North Korea today to discuss improving relations on the peninsula and possible talks between Washington and Pyongyang. After the two-day visit to North Korea, the special envoys will travel to the United States to brief officials on their discussions in Pyongyang, South Korea's presidential Blue House said.

Last month, US Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to meet with North Korean officials, including Mr Kim's sister, while in South Korea for the Winter Olympics, but the North Koreans cancelled at the last minute, US officials said in February. They said the North Koreans had walked away after Mr Pence condemned North Korean human rights abuses and announced plans for new economic sanctions.

Irish Independent

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