WASHINGTON – The White House said on Monday that the “possibility” exists that President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will meet again but that Pyongyang must take steps toward denuclearization if it wants the relaxed bilateral tensions to continue.
“The possibility of another meeting between the two presidents obviously exists,” said White House National Security Advisor John Bolton in a speech before the Federalist Society in Washington.
“But President Trump can’t make the North Koreans walk through the door he’s holding open. They are the ones that have to take the steps to denuclearize. And that’s what we are waiting for.”
Trump’s national security adviser said that he remains convinced that North Korea could dismantle most of its ballistic missiles within a year, as he said in July.
When asked how he arrived at that calculation, Bolton responded that last April Kim told South Korean President Moon Jae-in that he could denuclearize North Korea “in two years.”
Bolton said that Moon asked Kim why it couldn’t be done in one year and Kim replied that it could be, whereupon the US administration official added that he personally thought that it could be done even more quickly.
At their historic June summit in Singapore, Trump and Kim agreed that they would work toward denuclearization in North Korea, but the bilateral dialogue had stalled due to differences in how to undertake that process.
North Korea has demanded progress on the signing of a peace treaty with South Korea that would put an end to the technical state of war existing on the peninsula in exchange for taking concrete steps to begin dismantling its nuclear arsenal, as the White House requires.
After recently cancelling Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s scheduled trip to Pyongyang over the lack of progress in the talks, Trump has resumed his friendly tone with Kim and last Friday announced that he was awaiting delivery of a letter from the North Korean leader.
According to press reports published in July, the White House wanted to schedule a second Trump-Kim summit in September in New York, taking advantage of the UN General Assembly, but that encounter was predicated upon progress toward denuclearization by North Korea, which – so far – has not been made public.