Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Donald Trump

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Trump Says He Hopes To Normalize Relations With North Korea After Summit

June 07, 2018 - 2:13 pm
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WASHINGTON (WCBS 880/CBS News/AP) -- President Donald Trump said Thursday that he is "very well prepared" for next week's summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

But he said the outcome depends less on preparation than "attitude ... willingness to get things done."

Trump met in the Oval Office Thursday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the date of the U.S.-North Korea summit fast approaches.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Trump said he hopes the upcoming North Korea summit will be the beginning of a "bright new future" for both North Korea and the world.

He said "normalizing relations is something that I would hope to do" with North Korea once the negotiations are completed.

Trump added that there are a "lot of good factors lined up for North Korea."

He said the bonds the U.S. and Japan are stronger than ever, before allowing Abe to give his remarks.

Abe echoed Trump, saying if North Korea is willing to take steps in the right direction, North Korea will see a bright future.

Abe said the North Korea summit will be a major step, and Trump is about to make a new history. He said Japan is looking forward to the summit as a way to open peace and stability for the region.

Trump added that a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivered by a top North Korean official last week was a "warm" one.

"The letter was just a greeting," Trump said, calling it very "nice" and "warm."

He said the letter said "nothing other than, ‘We look forward to seeing you,’ and, ‘We look forward to the summit.’"

Trump further said he would "certainly" invite Kim Jong Un to visit the United States if summit negotiations in Singapore go well.

But Trump said he is also "totally prepared to walk" if things don't go well, noting that he "did it once before."

Trump said he would probably favor the White House over his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, as a venue for hosting Kim, saying, "Maybe we'll start with the White House."

He also said he believes Kim is prepared to do something that will be great for his country, his family and himself.

Later Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said preparations for the summit continue to press forward, and Kim Jong Un is "prepared to denuclearize." Briefing reporters, Pompeo also suggested Congress will have to weigh in on any agreement made.

Pompeo said complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is the only acceptable option, in a way that is complete and verifiable. The secretary of state also said he thinks the North Korean definition of denuclearization and the U.S. definition of denuclearization have come closer together, although he declined to expand on what he meant by that.

"President Trump is hopeful," Pompeo said. "But he's also going into the summit with his eyes wide open." 

The president's decision to cancel the summit, then call it back on again, squeezed the time frame for planning the Singapore summit – set to take place Tuesday. Speaking to reporters alongside Abe on Thursday, Trump said that the Tuesday summit is still subject to change.

"I think I'm very well prepared," Trump said of the expected summit. "I don't think I have to prepare very much. It's about attitude. It's about willingness to get things done. But I think I've been prepared for this summit for a long time."

Trump described the Kim meeting as "much more than a photo-op." Abe requested Thursday's meeting with Trump to elevate his country's concerns about the summit.

"They have to de-nuke," Trump said of North Korea. "If they don't denuclearize, that will not be acceptable. And we cannot sanctions off."

Trump said the talks with Kim will start a process to bring about a resolution to the nuclear issue. "I think it's not a one-meeting deal," he said. Asked how many days he's willing to stay to talk with Kim, Trump said, "One, two three, depending on what happens."

Trump, who spent the morning before meeting Abe firing off a dozen unrelated tweets, added: "I think I've been prepared for this summit for a long time, as has the other side. I think they've been preparing for a long time also. So this isn't a question of preparation, it's a question of whether or not people want it to happen."

Trump was to huddle with Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton Thursday afternoon "to continue their strategic discussions" ahead of the summit, said National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis.

As for the summit sidelines, Trump said that he won't be playing golf with Kim and that despite press reports former NBA star Dennis Rodman isn't on his guest list.

"I like him," Trump said of Rodman. "He's a nice guy. No, he was not invited."

Abe is pushing Trump to raise the issue of Japanese abductees held in North Korea and is seeking to ensure that Trump's efforts to negotiate an agreement with Kim don't harm Japan's interests.

U.S. allies in the region have expressed concern that Trump's push to denuclearize the Korean peninsula could ignore the North's sophisticated ballistic missile and chemical weapons programs.

Japan was heartened by Trump's decision to meet with the families of abductees during his visit to Tokyo last year and hopes the president raises the issue with Kim next week, according to a Japanese Embassy official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitive nature of the visit.

The official stressed that, while Japan has sometimes been left out of major decisions and briefed after the fact, the two allies remain on the same page. Japan had been briefed ahead of time on Trump's decision to temporarily cancel the Kim summit following a hostile statement from the North, the official said.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. CBS News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)