White House rejects criticisms of summit
The White House tried to swat away criticism Friday that the U.S. is getting nothing in exchange for agreeing to a historic face-to-face summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said North Korea has made promises to denuclearize, stop its nuclear and missile testing and allow joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises. But questions remained over exactly what North Korea means by “denuclearize” and what the U.S. might be risking with a highly publicized summit that will build up Kim’s stature among world leaders.
“Let’s not forget that the North Koreans did promise something,” Sanders said, responding to a reporter’s question about why Trump agreed to a meeting – unprecedented between leaders of the two nations – without preconditions.
She added: “We are not going to have this meeting take place until we see concrete actions that match the words and the rhetoric of North Korea.”
Still, the White House indicated that planning for the meeting was fully on track.
“The deal with North Korea is very much in the making and will be, if completed, a very good one for the World. Time and place to be determined,” Trump tweeted late Friday.
The previous night’s announcement of the summit marked a dramatic turnaround after a year of escalating tensions and rude insults between the two leaders. A personal meeting would have been all but unthinkable when Trump was being dismissed as a “senile dotard” and the Korean “rocket man” was snapping off weapons tests in his quest for a nuclear arsenal that could threaten the U.S. mainland.
North Korea’s capabilities are indeed close to posing a direct atomic threat to the U.S. And the wider world has grown fearful of a resumption of the Korean War that ended in 1953 without a peace treaty.
The prospect of the first U.S.-North Korea summit has allayed those fears somewhat. The European Union, Russia and China – whose leader spoke by phone with Trump on Friday – have all welcomed the move.
North Korea’s government has yet to formally comment on its invitation to Trump. South Korea said the president agreed to meet Kim by May, but Sanders said Friday that no time and place had been set.