US President Donald Trump has vowed to resume nuclear talks with Pyongyang in the coming weeks following an imprompu historic meeting with Kim Jong-un at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.
“We just had a very, very good meeting with Chairman Kim,” Trump told reporters after leaving the Korean leader on Sunday.
Kim and Trump have been in negotiations regarding North Korea’s nuclear program for months. In June 2018, the two leaders held a landmark summit in Singapore, at which both expressed a commitment to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Yet, their next gathering in Vietnam in February 2019 was cut short after Pyongyang requested relief from sanctions imposed on North Korea for humanitarian reasons, and Trump refused.
On Sunday, during a hastily arranged summit between the two, the ice seems to have finally broken. Trump and Kim agreed that each will designate a negotiating “team” in order to work together on the details of a future agreement. The teams in question will start working over the next two to three weeks, with the US team to be headed by special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun.
Trump, however, emphasized he wasn’t planning on rushing into any agreement with Pyongyang.
Speed is not the object. Nobody knows how things turn out… We’re looking to get it right.
The two countries have repeatedly failed to reach an agreement as Washington has demanded Pyongyang’s full “denuclearization,” while North Korea has called for full relief from sanctions.
Hours before the Sunday’s meeting, Trump also made clear that Pyongyang should not expect any imminent relief from sanctions. Despute “certain chemistry” between the two head os states, Washington is “in no rush” to ease the restrictions.
Meanwhile, there is a rift relating to North Korea within Trump’s own camp. After Pyongyang test-fired missiles in May, following a two-year pause in launches, US foreign policy hardliners – like National Security Advisor John Bolton and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – rushed to slam the act as a violation of international law. Trump, however, tried to play a different tune, tweeting that such incidents worry “some of my people, but not me.”
Pyongyang for its part has called Bolton a “war fanatic” working to destroy peace rather than maintain it. North Korea also signaled that it would like to see Mike Pompeo replaced by someone more careful and “mature” in talks. If he engages in nuclear talks again, the “table will be lousy,” it warned.