US president Donald Trump said Wednesday the fate of a landmark summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un will be decided “next week,” as aides travelled to Singapore on a preparatory mission.
“On Singapore we’ll see. It could very well happen,” Trump said of the on-again-off-again 12 June meeting, which has been as keenly teased as any of his “The Apprentice” season finales.
“Whatever it is, we’ll know next week.”
And in an interview to air Thursday morning on one of the president’s preferred programmes, Fox & Friends, he said “there’s a good chance” the talks would take place.
“If that happens, it would be a great thing for North Korea. Listen, it would be a great thing for the world, so we’ll see what happens,” Trump said in the interview, according to excerpts released by Fox.
Hand-picked aides—including deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin and deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel—are travelling to the Southeast Asian city state designated to host the summit, officials said.
They are expected to meet their North Korean counterparts and iron out details of the meeting.
The top diplomat from Pyongyang’s traditional ally China on Wednesday expressed hope for a successful meeting, as planned.
“If you want to solve the moment now is the time, if you want peace now is the time, if you want to make history now is the time,” Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said in Washington, alongside his American counterpart Mike Pompeo.
The US Secretary of State said whether the summit goes ahead is now up to North Korea.
Asked in a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee if the summit will take place, Pompeo replied: “That decision will ultimately be up to Chairman Kim.”
“He asked for the meeting, the president agreed to meet with him,” Pompeo said. “I’m very hopeful that that meeting will take place.”
His remarks reflect an effort to perhaps lay the groundwork for blame should the talks fail.
Ostensibly the Trump-Kim talks will be about peace on the Korean peninsula and North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic weapons.
But even before talk of test freezes, decommissioning or inspections, Washington and Pyongyang are engaged in a public relations battle.
As part of a charm offensive, North Korea invited some foreign journalists to witness the slated destruction of the isolated regime’s nuclear test site.
The gesture, which experts agree would do little to curb North Korea’s long-term nuclear capabilities, is meant to signal that the regime is serious about change.