Trump asking aides whether he should proceed with North Korea summit: report
President Trump has been asking his aides if he should move forward with the planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month over fears that he could be politically embarrassed, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
Trump was surprised and angered by a recent announcement from North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator that North Korea would be unwilling to trade its nuclear weapons for economic aid, administration officials told the Times.
On Saturday night, Trump called South Korean President Moon Jae-in to ask why North Korea’s public statements didn’t match the private assurances Kim had given Moon, the Times reported. The call took place three days before Moon and Trump are set to meet in Washington, D.C.
Aides said they were concerned about the president’s understanding of North Korea’s nuclear program and what is needed to ensure denuclearization, the Times reported. Moon and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have said Kim seemed highly knowledgeable about the details of the program.
According to the Times, aides are also concerned Trump signaled too strongly his willingness to meet with Kim and are afraid Kim, sensing Trump’s eagerness, might offer assurances with a short lifespan.
There is also more pressure on the president to come out of the summit with a strong deal following his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal.
However, former aides told the Times that Trump has been resistant to receiving detailed briefings about the nuclear program.
Last week, North Korea canceled a meeting with South Korea and warned they could cancel the summit meeting because of U.S. military drills.
Until recently, administration officials had said they expected Kim to agree to denuclearization and a fast timetable for winding down the nuclear program, the Times reported.