Trump says he won’t ‘play the time game’ on North Korea talks
President Trump said Wednesday that he does not want to “play the time game” with North Korea, adding he doesn’t care if it takes years for the rogue country to denuclearization.
“I don’t want to get into the time game,” Trump said at a press conference in New York as he ended his visit to the United Nations General Assembly. “We’re not playing the time game. If it takes two years, three years or five months, doesn’t matter. There’s no nuclear testing and there’s no testing of rockets.”
Administration officials have previously said they were aiming for North Korea to take major steps toward denuclearization by the end of Trump’s first time.
In a statement last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the goal is to have a denuclearization deal by January 2021.
On Monday, though, asked how long it would take to know whether negotiations were working, Pompeo said that “to set a date certain would be foolish.”
On Wednesday, Trump said he told Pompeo not to “get into the time game.”
“I told Mike Pompeo, I said, ‘Mike, don’t get into the time game,’” he said. “We stopped them, they’re taking down plants, they’re taking down a lot of different testing areas. They’re going to take down some more, you’ll be hearing about that very soon. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but you’ll be hearing about that soon.”
He added that he has “all the time in the world” because he is not lifting sanctions on North Korea.
Trump during his appearances at the United Nations said that a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will happen in the “not too distant future.”
He told reporters Wednesday that he wants to have the summit because Kim wants it.
He also praised two letters to him from Kim, saying they were a “beautiful piece of art.”
He also railed against criticisms of his diplomatic efforts, claiming former President Obama was close to going to war with North Korea.
“He said to me that he was very close to going into war,” Trump claimed.
In a meeting before Trump took office, Obama warned Trump that North Korea would be the most difficult foreign policy issue of his presidency.
Critics have slammed Trump for giving North Korea unilateral concessions, including canceling military exercises with South Korea.
Trump said Wednesday he was looking at canceling the exercises for a while, reiterating his criticism that they were too costly. The Pentagon has said the exercises would have cost about $14 million, a fraction of its $700 billion budget.
“If you asked [Defense Secretary] Gen. [James] Mattis, for a year and a half, I said, ‘Why don’t we stop these ridiculous, in my opinion, the military games,” he said. “Frankly, I told South Korea you should be paying for these games.”
Still, he said, if need he would restart the exercises “before the generals start them.”
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