By Agence France-Presse
US President Donald Trump said Monday he expects to hold a second summit soon with Kim Jong Un, lauding the North Korean strongman at the United Nations as “terrific” one year after he eviscerated him from the same platform.
Trump used his debut address to the UN General Assembly 12 months ago to threaten to “totally destroy” North Korea and belittled its leader as “rocket man,” prompting Kim to respond by calling the US president “mentally deranged.”
But returning to New York for this year’s gathering, Trump hailed “tremendous progress” to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests and said that a year later it was a “much different time.”
“Chairman Kim has been really very open and terrific, frankly, and I think he wants to see something happen,” Trump said after meeting South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a dove who recently visited Kim in Pyongyang.
“I think within a fairly short period of time that (summit) will be announced. It will be at a location to be determined but we’re both very much looking forward to having it.”
Trump, who met Kim in Singapore in June in the first-ever summit between the two countries that have never signed a peace treaty, earlier told reporters that he appreciated “a beautiful letter” the young North Korean leader had sent to him.
While relations with Kim have improved dramatically, leaders attending the annual assembly expect this year to hear Trump espouse a hard line on a different US adversary, Iran’s Hassan Rouhani.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who has visited Pyongyang three times — will preside over a Security Council meeting Thursday to explain the administration’s imposition of sanctions on North Korea, which has hit Chinese and Russian companies.
Skepticism remains about whether Kim has taken any concrete steps, but that seems unlikely to deter Trump from pushing toward a new summit in what he considers a key foreign policy achievement.
Focus on sovereignty
In his 41-minute speech at the General Assembly in 2017, Trump made clear he wanted to turn the clock back on the last half-century’s growth of global rules and institutions and to return to the primacy of the nation-state.
His national security adviser, John Bolton, said that Trump would stress defense of US sovereignty in his latest UN address on Tuesday.
The UN’s number one financial backer, the United States has moved under Trump to cut funding to the world body, notably to peacekeeping missions that are key to the UN’s goal of promoting peace and security.
“The United Nations has tremendous potential and that potential is being met, slowly but surely,” Trump told a meeting on combatting drugs attended by UN chief Antonio Guterres.