US President Donald Trump says that everything was “ready to go” for his summit next week with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Trump made the remarks Thursday as he welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House for preparatory talks before the summit.
“The summit is all ready to go,” Trump told reporters. “It’s all going along very fine. I hope it continues on this track.”
Trump and Abe held a joint press conference at the White House on Thursday afternoon before heading to Canada for what promises to be a tense Group of Seven (G7) summit clouded by the US leader’s controversial trade tariffs.
Trump: I’ll invite Kim to US if summit goes well
At the news conference, Trump said he might invite Kim to the White House if he deemed the summit a success, according to Reuters.
The top US diplomat also repeated what he said last week that it was possible he and Kim could sign an agreement to end the Korean War, which concluded in 1953 when the two countries signed the ceasefire – the Korean Armistice Agreement, not a peace treaty.
“We could sign an agreement, as you know that would be a first step … We’re looking at it, we’re talking about it with a lot of other people,” Trump told reporters. “That’s probably the easy part. The hard part remains after that.”
He added that he hoped someday American relations with the North Korean government could be normalized.
Following the Trump-Abe news conference, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked about Washington’s stance going into the talks.
Pompeo said the president will not accept anything short of “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“President Trump is hopeful. But he’s also going into the summit with his eyes wide open,” Pompeo said at a White House briefing.
Pompeo, however, added that Washington would guarantee North Korea’s security should it denuclearize. Trump “is prepared to ensure a DPRK free of its weapons of mass destruction is also a secure North Korea,” he said.
Trump’s enthusiasm to hold the meeting with Kim has reportedly prompted concerns in Tokyo that a hasty deal between the US and North Korea would leave Japan exposed to a perceived North Korean missile threat.
Japan has been anxiously watching ever since a thaw began first between Pyongyang and Seoul and then between North Korea and the US.
Japan also reportedly fears that Trump could eventually agree to reduce US military forces in South Korea, leaving Japan — which has been highly dependent on US military protection since Tokyo’s defeat in World War II — to fend for itself.
The Kim-Trump summit announcement came after several months of unprecedented cordial diplomacy between South and North Koreas, which had been adversaries for decades.
Trump has threatened the North Korean leader with the same fate as Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi if Pyongyang does not abandon its nuclear weapons program.
Trump issued the threat this month when asked about the suggestion by US National Security Adviser John Bolton that the “Libyan model” be a template for dealing with North Korea at the planned summit.